Where Will It Be?
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ “Congress on Your Corner” was an expression of a time-honored and essential part of our representative form of government – an elected representative meeting with her constituents and listening to their opinions.
The opinions of all who attended that day were as vast and different as the tapestry that makes up our county. But each shared something in common – a deep commitment to their community and an understanding of the importance of making our democracy – of the people, by the people, and for the people.
While this basic exercise in self-government was shattered by an unspeakable act of violence, our belief in two of our nation’s bedrock principles – freedom of speech and the right to assembly – were not shattered. We will never forget those who perished that day. In their honor, we will continue to pursue the American ideals they embodied.
Immediately after the tragedy, our community, shocked and filled with grief, came together in a way it never had before. Three impromptu memorials sprung up – one outside of Congresswoman Giffords’ district office, another at UMC hospital where most of the victims were being treated, and a third at the shooting site of the Safeway grocery store. While these temporary sites were maintained for as long as weather permitted, civic leaders recognized the need to find a suitable location to construct a permanent memorial.
As a result of several community meetings, a formal 501(c)3 Foundation was set up to help provide financial and strategic support for the endeavor. Most of the Board of Directors of the Foundation are individuals who were directly impacted by the tragedy. After reviewing hundreds of public comments gathered for memorial planning and researching other memorial sites around the country, they decided to return to the original intent and focus on the core principles that inspired our fellow neighbors to attend the Congress on Your Corner event that day. They then set out to find the best, most appropriate location for the January 8 Permanent Memorial.
Over the course of 2013, Tucson’s January 8 Memorial Foundation Board reviewed several potential permanent memorial site opportunities in various locations around the Tucson area. Because of the important civic nature of the memorial, the Board chose to locate the Memorial in the heart of our government center – in and around one of our community’s most well-known landmarks: the Old Pima County Courthouse.
For 84 years, the Old Courthouse has stood as a gracious symbol of our representative democracy. The voices of elected leaders and ordinary citizens alike have for generations resonated within its famous pink walls. In many ways, this iconic building serves as a gateway to our local governments, whose meeting chambers are situated in buildings around the exterior of the civic plaza, Presidio Park. The Board can think of no better place for a memorial to a historical event that tore at the heart of our community than this setting which would celebrate our democratic principles and serve as a memorial gateway to our government leaders.
The Permanent Memorial will tell the story of what happened on January 8, 2011 and will educate and remind people of their critical role in self-governance. Most of all, it will remind future generations how our community came together at an important moment in history and how we can all continue to build a better democracy through active participation and civic discourse.
Visit the Memorial Here: