Gabrielle Giffords leads Pledge of Allegiance at Tucson memorial ceremony

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The bells began ringing at Saint Augustine Cathedral Sunday morning at 10:11 A.M. to mark one year since the moment shots were fired in a Tucson Safeway parking lot.

It was supposed to be a typical Saturday morning in Tucson, but January 8, 2011 quickly turned into our community's darkest day.   Six people were shot to death, 13 others injured-- including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Sunday night a couple thousand people, Giffords among them, gathered at the University of Arizona for a vigil to remember the victims and honor the survivors.

 

Several people impacted by the tragic shooting in Tucson addressed the crowd Sunday night, but it was Giffords herself that drew the most energy from the crowd-- showing what a difference one year can make.

From the moment she walked on stage-- loud applause and cheers for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

In that spirited Gabby fashion, she started the vigil by leading the crowd in the pledge of allegiance.

"It was overwhelming, just to see her come and represent Tucson," said a vigil attendee.

Emceed by Giffords' staffer and shooting victim Ron Barber, the vigil included a candle light ceremony. Nineteen candles, one for each victim and survivor, all lit by the survivors themselves.

Amid a sea of glow sticks waving in the air there was a sense of sadness for the lives forever changed, but also a sense of hope that tragedy will not define Tucson.

Earlier Sunday, president Obama reached out to Gabby Giffords, over the phone he expressed his condolences for all the shooting victims and told Gabby that he's amazed at her courage and determination, and that throughout this past year she has been an inspiration to his family and Americans across the country.