TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — It's been a year since that bloody Tucson morning — a year of reflecting on lives shattered, of struggling with flashbacks and nightmares, of replaying the what-ifs before the deadly rampage that shocked a nation. And in the middle of it: one woman, Gabrielle Giffords, forging one of the most grueling journeys back of all.
One year after a deranged gunman shot the Arizona congresswoman in the head and opened fire on dozens of others at a Tucson grocery store, the congresswoman and other survivors were gathering Sunday to reflect and move forward.
Churches and homes throughout the southern Arizona city will ring bells at 10:11 a.m. MST, the exact time the gunman shot Giffords and methodically moved down a line of people waiting to talk to her during a congressional meet-and-greet on Jan. 8, 2011.
Six people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl born on 9/11 and a federal judge. Thirteen others were shot, including Giffords.
The 41-year-old Giffords has spent the last year in Houston undergoing intensive physical and speech therapy. Doctors and family have called her recovery miraculous after the Jan. 8 shooting; she is able to walk and talk, vote in Congress and gave a televised interview to ABC's Diane Sawyer in May. But doctors have said it would take many months to determine the lasting effects of her brain injury. The three-term congresswoman has four months to decide whether to seek re-election.
"She's making a lot of progress. She's doing great," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, a close friend, said. "She still has a long way to go."
Giffords, her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, and her Tucson doctor are joining thousands at an evening candlelight vigil at the University of Arizona. Kelly was expected to speak.
Close friends of Giffords and of the dead planned emotional reflections on their lives.
Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, who was born and raised in Tucson, will speak about Giffords, whose recovery has captivated the nation. Federal judge Raner Collins is remembering fellow judge John Roll; Christina-Taylor Green's two best friends will talk about the bright and ambitious girl born on Sept. 11, 2001.
Pat Maisch is set to speak on behalf of everyone who survived. The petite but feisty woman grabbed a gun magazine from Jared Lee Loughner after he was tackled during the shooting and believes she would have been shot next if he hadn't been subdued.
Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the shooting. The 23-year-old, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, is being forcibly medicated at a Missouri prison facility in an effort to make him mentally ready for trial.
Many of them also have lobbied for gun legislation in Washington in hopes of preventing similar shootings and started various nonprofits that award scholarships, help needy children and promote awareness about mental illness.
Some shooting survivors, including Giffords staffers Ron Barber and Pam Simon, plan to attend as many events on Sunday as possible, including an interfaith service at a church.
Others, like 76-year-old survivor Mavy Stoddard, whose husband, Dory, was killed as he shielded her from the bullets, plan to stay at home with family.
Sunday's events were designed to bring Tucson residents together much like they came together after the shooting last year.
The night of the shooting, more than 100 people showed up outside Giffords' office on a busy street corner in frigid temperatures, holding candles and signs that simply read "Peace" and "Just pray." Strangers hugged, most cried and many sang anthems like "Amazing Grace."
In the days and weeks that followed, thousands of people contributed to makeshift memorials outside the office, the Tucson hospital where Giffords and other shooting victims were treated and the grocery store where it happened.
The memorials turned into massive tributes of candles, cards, photos, stuffed animals and flowers that blanketed areas of up to 60-by-100 feet.
Others that came later include a 9-foot, 11-inch sculpture of an angel forged from World Trade Center steel in memory of Green.
Several of the shooting victims visited the memorials before they were dismantled and put in storage boxes for safekeeping until a permanent memorial is erected in the coming years. Items from the hospital alone filled 60 boxes.
Shooting survivor Susan Hileman called the memorials a "giant hug" from the community.
Her favorite memorial sign read, "Plant seeds of peace and love will grow."
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