January 8 Memorial design

Design for the Jan. 8th Memorial to be built in El Presidio Park. Completion is expected in 2018.

PHOENIX — The House Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to provide $2.5 million over five years to help construct a memorial in Tucson to honor the victims of the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting that left six dead and others injured, including then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Pam Simon, a Giffords aide who at the “Congress on Your Corner” event in a Safeway parking lot, called the incident “an assault on democracy.”

“The ability for Americans to speak to their elected representatives is the core of our democracy,” she said.

Simon told lawmakers how a bullet went through her arm and into her chest. In fact she remembers waking up with Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson, who operated on her at the hospital, telling her she was “one lucky lady” with the bullet missing her vital organs.

She said a permanent memorial is appropriate, recalling how spontaneous ones went up at the shooting site and outside the hospital where she, Giffords and others were being treated.

“People need someplace to go,” she said. “They needed to be able to pray, to reflect, just be together.”

Crystal Kasnoff who is chairing the memorial effort said the state’s dollars, which will be matched with local funds, are actually an investment. She said experiences elsewhere where memorials have been erected show people come from out of town to see them, spending money while they are there.

The unanimous vote sends HB 2436 to the full House.