Saturday’s shooting in Tucson, Ariz., was devastating, something that has not been lost on members of Congress, news services and the citizens of Tucson and the state of Arizona. There were 19 victims, some of whom have gotten lost in the proverbial wind.
CBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, Fox and other news outlets are focusing on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, District Judge John Roll, congressional aide Gabe Zimmerman and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green.
That is the point of this column: names. By now, you might know four.
Phoenix’s Arizona Republic News took time to recognize the others who died at the hands of the assassin. Allow me to share some of that information on the six who were killed.
Federal Chief District Justice John Roll went to the open-air meeting to thank the ongresswoman for her help in retaining funds for the court to handle the increased demand of immigration cases. He had left his church services early to accomplish this friendly task.
Thirty-year old Gabe Zimmerman was the congresswoman’s director of community outreach. He was on the verge to that next step in his life — marriage.
Christina Taylor Green was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and was newly elected to the student council. The photo of her and her mother shows a child with a future with no barriers, a young girl who might have been a member of Congress if it were not for her wanting to meet her congresswoman that day.
From the Republic News, “Also killed were Dorothy Murray, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79.”
According to a spokesman for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, the names of the 13 who were wounded and their conditions will not be released. They are considered both victims and witnesses to the shooting.
These were and are real people. The absence of their names takes away their identities. They are not the grandparents, parents, spouses and children who they were and are. Without names, they do not exist.
As of this writing, we do not know if the shooter's motives were politically motivated or if a voice inside told him this was his destiny. It really does not matter right now, no matter how hard the talking heads want to focus on the “political radical” idea. It is about the dead.
In 1882, Robert Ingersoll (1833 – 1899) was asked to give a eulogy for a child who had died a few days earlier. Ingersoll knew the family, Detective and Mrs. George O. Miller, and their 8-month-old son, Harry.* However, this eulogy is one that is as appropriate then as it is today. He said:
“We know that through the common wants of life, the needs and duties of each hour, their grief will lessen day by day until at last these graves will be to them a place of rest and peace, and almost joy. There is for them this consolation: The dead do not suffer. If they live again, their lives will surely be as good as ours.”
This is also about the living: the 13 who survived and the families, friends and constituents whose loss cannot be measured in words. This is about those who will suffer the heartbreak of losing a grandparent, parent, fiance or spouse. It is about the 534 remaining members of Congress who have yet another burden placed on their shoulders: threats of injury or death. It is about you and me and how we relate to each other even with our disagreements.
Ingersoll’s final line, to me, says it all. “We, too, have our religion, and it is this: 'Help for the living, hope for the dead.'”
In the weeks to come, national and local news will focus on Jared Loughner, the man accused of the shooting; Giffords; and the investigation. It will focus on the national debates and polarization of American politics. It will focus on the loss of civility and our propensity to turn to violence as a solution.
Unfortunately, we will forget the other victims as they are forgotten or remain nameless by the media.
David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.