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Hope in Tragedy

By Kelly Thomas - Posted on 11 January 2011

I do feel many things need to be examined in the wake of the Arizona mass shooting such as the influence of violent or hate-filled rhetoric and symbolism, gun control issues, and mental health issues including services and funding. However, I thought I'd take a moment to help refocus all of us here at RFO on the most important aspects of this entire tragedy and offer some glimmers of hope for our nation.

First of all, the collective prayers of the nation seem to be working for Representative Gabby Giffords. I am amazed at the optimism of her doctors and close friends and family witnessing her progress. Everyone is still "guarded" and it must be stressed that she is "not out of the woods yet" but it's hard not to think we are witnessing nothing short of a miracle. Here is an update on her medical condition from CNN.

(CNN) -- After surviving a gunshot wound to the head at a political event Saturday, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remains in critical condition, and Tuesday was seen as significant in her recovery.

The brain tends to swell the most on the third day after a traumatic injury, and it's a very good sign if she makes it past the third and fourth day, said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of the Cedars-Sinai Hospital Department of Neurosurgery in Los Angeles, who is not involved in treating Giffords.

She has a breathing tube to protect her lungs, but is generating her own breaths, said Dr. Michael Lemole, chief of neurosurgery at University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, at a news conference Tuesday. Doctors say Giffords has been responsive to commands.

"It's simply asking her to raise fingers, to squeeze on their fingers. It's not at a point yet where they can ask her to talk, because she's still on a respirator. But the signs that she is conscious are manifesting and we're very excited," Mike McNulty, Giffords' campaign chairman and close friend, told CNN's John King on Monday.

Secondly, I think we need to take a moment to praise and honor the heros of that day. The bravery, quick-thinking and selfless acts of so many are a reminder of what this country is all about. Take a moment to read this article from Politico about these heros.

Four Tucson, Ariz., residents — including a courageous woman who risked her own life — are being hailed for stopping accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner from reloading and preventing an even more horrific bloodbath.

Three men — identified as retired Army Col. Bill Badger, Roger Sulzgeber and Joseph Zamudio — tackled Loughner and held him until cops arrived, but it was 61-year-old Patricia Maisch who brazenly grabbed his bullets and dressed down the smirking shooter with “How could you?”

Maisch was waiting in line to meet Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at the Congress on Your Corner event as Loughner began shooting on Saturday, killing six and wounding 20.

“I could see him coming; [he] shot the lady next to me,” Maisch said, adding she remembers “lots of blood and confusion.”

Maisch thought about running away but stayed put out of fear she would catch the gunman’s attention if she bolted.

She dropped to the ground for cover as Badger and Sulzgeber saw what was happening in the Safeway parking lot and rushed the shooter.

Third, I was angry and heartbroken to hear that the Westboro Church had planned a protest of the funeral of the beautiful 9 year old girl who died in the shooting rampage. But it is amazing how good can overpower evil when caring people come together. The "Angel-Action" counter-protest is really catching on and is a peaceful answer to an intolerant, hate-filled group. It's gives me hope knowing we have so many angels living among us.

Having sounded that note of caution, there is reason for the hope that non-violence will win the day.  A woman named Christine Gilmer is organizing what is being called an “angel action” to oppose the Westboro Church.  Their plan is to surround the church members 8-by-10 foot “angel wings” to shield the public from the hate speech of Westboro.  Over 40 members of the communities have committed to the plan, and local businesses have chipped by donating materials.  It is this kind of pro-active, non-violent action which may help to diffuse an otherwise explosive situation.

After reading this statement by the husband of Representative Giffords, I decided to give a donation to her favorite charities. I hope you will consider doing the same. Since her husband released this statement, money has been pouring in to these charities-a testament to the generosity of Americans and the outpouring of support for the Giffords family and all of the victims.

On behalf of Gabby and our entire family, I want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the people of Arizona and this great nation for their unbelievable outpouring of support. Gabby was doing what she loved most — hearing from her constituents — when this tragedy occurred. Serving Southern Arizonans is her passion, and nothing makes her more proud than representing them in Congress.

Like all Americans, we mourn the loss of Judge John M. Roll, Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard and Gabe Zimmerman, a fine man and beloved member of Gabby's team. We must never forget them, and our prayers are with their families. Our hearts go out to everyone injured yesterday; we hope and pray for their quick recovery. We also extend our thanks and appreciation to all of the first responders, medical personnel, law enforcement, and Arizona citizens who acted swiftly on Saturday and continue to assist our community through this tragedy. Many stories of heroism are emerging, and they are a source of strength for us during this difficult time. We are forever grateful.

Many of you have offered help. There is little that we can do but pray for those who are struggling. If you are inspired to make a positive gesture, consider two organizations that Gabby has long valued and supported: Tucson's Community Food Bank and the American Red Cross.

Community Food Bank

3003 S Country Club Rd # 221

Tucson, AZ 85713-4084

(520) 622-0525

American Red Cross, Southern Arizona Chapter

2916 East Broadway Boulevard

Tucson, AZ 85716

(520) 318-6740

Finally, I will close with the words of Representative Gabby Giffords in the hopes that we will all take them to heart and spread the message to others around us. 

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, sent an email the night before she was shot at an event in Tucson calling for a more civil tone in politics.

Giffords offered congratulations to Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican, after he was named Director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics on Friday.

"After you get settled, I would love to talk about what we can do to promote centrism and moderation," Giffords wrote in the email, provided to CNN by Grayson. "I am one of only 12 Dems left in a GOP district (the only woman) and think that we need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."



Arizona legislators quickly approved emergency legislation Tuesday to head off picketing by a Topeka, Kan., church near the funeral service for a 9-year-old girl who was killed during Saturday's shooting in Tucson. Unanimous votes by the House and Senate cleared the way for the bill to go to Gov. Jan Brewer later Tuesday for her expected signature. It would take effect immediately.

Ordinarily I would be opposed to such a law.

However, it seems to be reasonable enough. The Westboro crazies can still do what they want and be heard and seen, but their actions shouldn't disrupt the funerals themselves too much.


That is wonderful news, Misty. Thanks for adding to the positives in the wake of so much pain and destruction.

Speaking of hope in tragedy, it looks like many people (about 31 Milllion) tuned into the Memorial Service in Tuscan, Arizona. In case anyone missed it:

Here is President Obama's speech.

Here are the comments of Daniel Herdanez at the service.

And here is a video of the entire ceremony. 

Very moving, indeed.



Kelly, thanks much for the links. I did not have the opportunity to see President Obama speak when it happened. I only heard bits and pieces about the story the morning after,  but I did hear about how much his words reached out to so many people on both sides. I am eager to watch the speech for myself.

I had forgotten I joined this group -- re-found you by accident! Was recently explaining my ROF perspective to friends. It's so encouraging to find messages like this, and to be reminded there are thinking people who hold to their principles, which allows them to make extraordinary choices.


 I really don't have a comment on the above story. I joined this sites in hope to find that there are Republicans or conservatives with principles different from mine but not all Limbaugh, Beck, or TEAPARTY types. I'M  African-American , I voted for and support the President. My support is not based on race , but support for some equality for us all. I'm just really , well worried about this talk or political shouting that is dividing us more and more.

 SO from a Republican point of view , if any of you have the time, send me a message. This is civil discussion to broaden my own views on the country as a whole.

Thank YOU

facebook -Tony Hayes

Thanks for the support, Tony. Sometimes we feel pretty isolated, but I think you'll see we are firm in our passions and beliefs and refuse to be "pushed around" by the messages of the Tea Party or petty labels. We embrace a platform of unity, cooperation, diversity and tolerance and we are eager for the Republican Party to "come back home" to principles which would make us proud. In the meantime, we are happy to express our Independence and applaud the party or agenda which reflects our ideals and values.

Link from The Hill. The husband of Rep. Gabby Giffords was interviewed by Diane Sawyer. The interview will air on 20/20 on Tuesday. His words are simply amazing and bring so much comfort and awe. He speaks of his wife's strength and even speaks of forgiveness and possibly meeting with the parents of the shooter. I had tears in my eyes reading some of his comments. If we could all have hearts and compassion like the Giffords family, the world would be a better place.

In his first extensive interview since the mass shootings Jan. 8 in Arizona, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) says the congresswoman has a long recovery ahead but is a "really, really tough woman."

"We know that the recovery from these kind of injuries isn't measured in days and weeks. It's more like weeks and months," Mark Kelly tells Diane Sawyer in an interview to be broadcast on "20/20" Tuesday night. "And so she's got a long, tough road ahead of her. But, you know, she's a really, really tough woman."

Doctors at University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., upgraded Giffords's condition on Sunday from critical to serious and have removed her breathing tube.

Kelly, a Navy pilot and astronaut, also says in the interview he might be willing to meet with the parents of the shooting suspect, Jared Loughner, who faces five federal charges, including attempted assassination of a member of Congress. Six people were killed in the attack, and 13 others were injured.

"I'd probably see them," says Kelly, according to excerpts released by ABC News. "You know, I don't think it's their fault. It's not the parents' fault. You know, I'd like to think I'm a person that's, you know, somewhat forgiving. And, I mean, they've got to be hurting in this situation as much as much as anybody.

"Gabby has two stepdaughters, and I have children. And they must — I'm sure they love their son," he said. "And they must be, you know, as distraught over this as all of us are." 

Kelly said his wife has made major progress — enough so that she is now able to rub his back. 

"[It is] so typical of her. She's in the ICU. You know, gone through this traumatic injury. And she spent 10 minutes giving me a neck massage," Kelly said. "I keep telling her, I'm like, 'Gabby, you're in the ICU. You know, you don't need — you know, you don't need to be doing this.' But it's so typical of her that no matter how bad the situation might be for her, you know, she's looking out for other people.

"I just stayed there because it seemed to comfort her," he said. "You know, when somebody needs to be doing that for her or needs to be doing something for her, you know, she was doing that for me."


Unfortunately others are lost causes in situations like this. I saw a Fox News article last night about how Kelly was urging people to do community service for MLK day, and the highest rated comments were those questioning his political motivations along with saying he was abusing the publicity for personal gain.

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