Who died a year ago today in Tucson, in the mass shooting that nearly killed Representative Gabrielle Giffords?
A trial-level federal judge, John Roll, on the bench for twenty years. A lawyer who gave up the much higher salaries of the private sector for the rewards of doing justice every day.
A congressional staffer, Gabe Zimmerman. Not just any congressional staffer, but a director of public outreach. The guy whose job it was to meet with constituents, wrangle local issues, set up community events like the one he was attending that morning.
A nine-year-old kid, Christina Taylor Green, just elected to her lets-pretend school council. A kid who jumped at the chance to tag along when a family friend announced she was going to meet her Congresswoman.
Three older people — Dorothy Murray and Dorwan Stoddard, both 76, and Phyllis Schneck, 79. Anyone who has spent any time around local politics could tell you what they were doing there. Community events attract the elderly — folks with time to spare, opinions on issues, a sense of the importance of civic participation. Folks with a hunger to be engaged, to be involved, to listen and be heard.
These six shared something in common. They were all the kind of people who, finding themselves with some free time on a sunny Saturday morning, could think of no better way to spend it than to schlep out to a supermarket parking lot to wait on a line next to a folding table for a chance to hang out with an elected official for a few minutes.
And that’s a beautiful thing.