Community event to remember Jan. 8 tragedy won’t be held this year

The remembrance service commemorating the tragic Tucson shooting on Jan. 8, 2011, has been canceled this year.
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 6:51 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The remembrance service commemorating the tragic Tucson shooting on January 8, 2011, has been canceled this year.

“The board of the memorial foundation is in the process of dissolving and that’s part of the reason we’re not organizing an event,” said former Congressman, Jan 8th shooting survivor and board member Ron Barber. “We don’t have the funds and we don’t have the staff.”

Barber said the memorial built at the El Presidio in downtown Tucson was built to remember what happened.

The $5 million memorial called the “Embrace”, took nearly eight years from conception to final construction.

The annual event to mark the tragedy, which killed six and wounded 13 others, included a bell ringing at the moment the shooting took place and a reading of the names of the victims.

It was a way to remember not only the victims but the resilience of the Tucson community.

“The community at large refused to allow the tragedy of the shooting to define who we were,” Barber said. “Instead we said ‘No, that’s not who we are as a community.’”

Even with the memorial, some are sad to see the community event be canceled.

“I know there’s a lot of people that do not want this to just fade away,” said Pat Maisch, who wrestled a fully loaded magazine away from the gunman, stopping his rampage and saving many lives. “It’s too important.”

Pima County, which manages the memorial, said it will open it at 8 a.m. Sunday and keep it open for the public until 5 p.m.

Maisch and Barber both plan to attend with family and friends.

“We don’t need to have something formal to be able to make it meaningful,” Maisch said.

But she also adds she was told by a victim of the Virginia Tech shooting that the day would come when people’s memories would fade.

“She said there’s going to come a day when your event expires,” Maisch said. “I think it may expire for some but for many of us, it will never expire.”