Like most Tucsonans, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild remembers precisely the moment when he received the news about the Jan. 8 shooting last year.
He was at a meeting with other Democratic activists at the time - many of them close acquaintances of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was scheduled to speak later. When word broke out, he describes a scene of chaos as media reports, some of them inaccurate, trickled in.
"It was hell," he said, adding Tucsonans likely remember that day the way the country remembers national tragedies like the shooting of President John F. Kennedy or the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
This weekend, however, he said, Tucsonans have a chance to get involved with one of the many events set up to remember, reflect and move forward.
"We will never be the same city, but we can come out of this a stronger city and a better city," Rothschild said.
Rothschild said he was thrilled to hear from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, that he was encouraging his members to join Tucson in commemorating the anniversary by participating in a ringing of bells at 10:11 a.m. (MST) Sunday.
As of Friday morning, Rothschild said 20 cities had agreed to participate, but he expected more than 100 by the end of the day.
"It's a great coming together of our nation," he said, adding it's a chance to reaffirm a commitment to a civility accord embraced by many cities after the shooting.
The accord includes a commitment to respect different opinions, avoid rhetoric designed to humiliate or question the patriotism of those whose opinions are different, choose words carefully and speak without accusation.
Rothschild will be at events on Saturday and Sunday and said he is looking forward to seeing Giffords for the first time.
For more information on commemorative events being sponsored throughout the community, log on to www.beyond-tucson.org online.
Contact reporter Rhonda Bodfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4243.