Jan. 8 tribute opens at Arizona History Museum

Published: Oct. 29, 2014 at 9:02 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 at 5:14 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Day of the Dead exhibit at the Arizona History Museum opened on Wednesday and includes only a fraction of the artifacts left behind following the deadly Jan. 8 shootings.

Museum curators spent a lot of time, and emotion, hand selecting what goes into this project.

Julia Arriola said the museum does a Day of the Dead exhibit every year and this one is different because it spans two rooms.

One room honors the six people who lost their lives on Jan. 8, 2011 when a gunman opened fire at a Congress on your Corner event.

The second room is for healing, as several were hurt that day, including former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who is still working on her recovery today.

The second difference is this was a project that required Arriola to think not only about artistic impact, but emotional impact as well.

"He just wrote on it. He said, 'May the spirit of this sacred desert heal and keep you and that did it from me. The desert is very healing and i believe it has helped to heal us.'"

Daniel Hernandez got a chance to check out the exhibit on Wednesday. He's the man who helped Giffords until first responders arrived.

He said the most striking thing about this exhibit is how children responded to the tragedy, pointing to a poster from students at Douglas High School.

Hernandez said he's impressed by the artistic expression of peace, but seeing these items is still hard for him.

"The things for Christina, who was only nine years old, are really kind of striking and having to have got to know her family a little bit better over the years," he said. "It's so sad to see that there was this 9-year-old who never got a chance to go to middle school, who never got a chance to go to high school, who never got a chance to accomplish the things she wanted to accomplish and she was such a bright young girl."

He said the permanent memorial is taking some time, but that's a good thing.

"We're doing it right," he said. "There are a lot of other places where after an instance of a tragedy rush to try and have some permanent memorial be built and I think that when we do that and we don't take into consideration the community's feedback, the feedback of the victims, the feedback of family member of those we've lost, we can really do a disservice to the community by creating something that not everybody is invested in."

The exhibit will be available through Jan. 15.

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