Monday, January 9, 2017

Six Years After

I met Pat Maisch at the Fire Station #1, at 10 o'clock on a sunny, cool, Tucson morning.  She held me as I wept.  I thanked the fire chief for the upcoming bell-ringing ceremony, and thanked the EMT and the Fire Fighter who were standing by.  They understand the irony and the absurdity and the horror best of all.

As Pat says, I'm so glad they are in my life and I hate the fact that they are in my life.

At 10:10, the bell began ringing.  6 mournful tones, each one ripping just a little bit deeper into my heart.  A pause.  Then, 13 strikes, for those of us wounded but surviving.  I shivered and remembered.

Pat wrote an editorial published in the Arizona Star on Sunday morning.  I'm copying it here for you.  Read it and see why I love this woman.  Pay careful attention to the parts about speaking out in the Senate and in the halls of Congress; she was detained by the police for those.  This is a person who puts her body where her mouth is.

As for me, I wept. Then I drove to the YarnBombing site and did good deeds all afternoon, sitting outside in the sunshine, stitching together panels from Arizona and Washington and Arkansas.  I was smiling as I drove home to hug JannyLou and Fast Eddie, the world's best next door neighbors.

The sun came up today and I was here to see it.  By definition, it's a good day.
*****

Six years since Jan. 8, 2011. Seems like moments ago or eons ago, depending. Life has a new normal for many since. Witnessing six people shot dead and 13 wounded on a sidewalk at Ina and Oracle roads on a beautiful Tucson morning changed me, as it should.
That morning two brave men, good guys without guns, Roger Salzgeber and Bill Badger, tackled the shooter without regard for their own safety. Bill soldiered on even with a bullet graze wound to the head. Their actions saved my life that morning.
As a result of my supplementing their action, I’ve received a what feels like a lifetime of attention. President Obama praised me in his speech at the memorial gathering here shortly after the shooting, even though I told him he was wrong about me being a hero. Bill and Roger were the heroes that morning.
Because of my notoriety, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (now Everytown/Moms Demand Action) was the first to give my story a voice for gun violence prevention. Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Women Against Gun Violence, Reston Herndon Alliance to End Gun Violence, Newtown Action Alliance and more have given my story a voice.
Because of my good fortune that day, I must make a difference, as an activist, with a voice for voices silenced by gun violence.
Since that Jan. 8 there have been so many mass shootings, numbers differ by agency count. Infamous ones include: 12 killed 70 wounded in Aurora, Colorado; Sandy Hook Elementary School found six educators and 20 tiny, beautiful, first-graders killed; in Isla Vista, California three dead of stab wounds, 3 killed and 7 wounded by firearms; San Bernardino’s shooters killed 14 and injured 22; a Charleston church shooting left nine dead and one wounded; then Orlando, Florida.
I often wondered who would take Virginia Tech’s distinction of most killed in a single shooting. Virginia Techs’ 32 dead in 2007 held the record until 2016. Then, Pulse Night Club in Orlando, June 12. Forty-nine dead, 53 wounded. Now I wonder who’s next if we don’t try to help stop the madness.
Through advocacy, I’m honored to know many wounded survivors, as well as surviving loved ones of many shootings, from those I’ve mentioned and from other individual and mass shootings. With the honor comes knowledge, horrible knowledge of the visible physical wounds and a sense of the emotional wounds. Then there is the knowledge of how a loved one was killed. I can only imagine the unimaginable, but victims’ families and friends live it, every minute of every day. It doesn’t stop.
For me, this terrible knowledge carries a self-imposed responsibility to continue to stand up, to speak out, to be loud, whether at a Senate hearing, a state hearing in Arizona or elsewhere, a sit-in at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Anywhere.
A recent “anywhere” was the first day of class at a University of Arizona lecture hall. Putting a face and personality to a name of one taken makes that person and that shooting much more real. In this case, we talked about Alex Teves, a 2010 UA grad who had been a true hero in that Aurora, Colorado movie theater when the shooting started. Alex sacrificed his life and saved his fiancĂ©, Amanda.
Alex’s mom, Caren, was with me when I told that class about Alex, including his freshman dorm room. To our astonishment, from more than 6,000 new students on campus that day, one young lady in our audience had that exact room assignment. What a tender coincidence. Those little “coincidences” mean so much to the loved ones of those slain. .
Each day an average of 91 people die from a firearm wounds. Two-thirds are deaths by self-infliction — suicides. An important number consistently forgotten, and easily dismissed by some, is the daily count of those wounded by gunshots. The latest number I know is 231. Their wounds range from a graze to very complicated, life-altering injuries. The consequences of a man holding a gun loaded with ammunition. A very intimate relationship, that.
My advocacy tries to educate and convince legislators that we can keep the Second Amendment whole and do common sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to self or others. Some will never be convinced, and to them we say “Stand aside, let us pass!” It’s our right to try and we have work to do.
Today, please remember the 13 wounded including our former Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, and those killed on the sidewalk that day: Dorothy Morris, Dorwan Stoddard, Phyllis Schneck, Judge John Roll, Gabe Zimmerman and beautiful, little, 9-year-old, Christina-Taylor Green.
Honor their lives with action because words without action change little. Do something to make a difference in someone’s life.
Remember them. I do, every day. Always.
On Jan. 8, 2011 Patricia Maisch wrestled ammunition away from the shooter and stopped him from reloading. She lives in Tucson.

2 comments:

  1. "Honor their lives with action because words without action change little. Do something to make a difference in someone’s life."

    I will do my best to honor those lost in Tucson and elsewhere. We can fight gun violence, but we all must take a stand--not just Moms. I'm tired of hearing about people who should not even be near a gun. The recent shooting in Fort Lauderdale has really upset me (not that all the others don't), but this guy checked ONLY a gun. This reminds me of the Sandy Hook video--look for warning signs. That should have been a huge red flag. If someone has been proactive, that shooting and many others could have been prevented. We all need to pay attention and get out of our bubbles. Many of the shooters in these mass shootings exhibited warning signs. We need to be better about paying attention to those around us.

    Whether Pat will admit it or not, SHE IS A HERO. Thank goodness she was there that day to wrestle him to the ground.

    As always, I'm sending massive love and hugs!

    Megan xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She is modest - about her role, about her accomplishments, about the impact she has on those around her. But I know that, in her heart, she recognizes that we speak the truth.
      a/b

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