Rising Out of Grief, Tuscon is Looking Forward to the Future

By Sally Stevens*

Greetings from Tucson. There are no words to describe this past week -- tears, hope, guilt, love, and grief are but just a few. Our community is small enough that somehow everyone is personally connected to the tragic event of January 8, 2011. 

Wednesday's ceremony with President Obama at the University of Arizona helped us to begin moving forward. During the day, the campus was eerily quiet -- except as one neared the human line that formed to attend the ceremony. Police helicopters circled the University and sirens, police, homeland security, dogs, etc. were on the ground. I made my way over to the line (like thousands of others) for solidarity, signing the ribbon, and feeling the grief.

Soon the memorial services and gatherings will conclude; the immense shrines located at Gifford's office, the University Medical Center, and other places across the city will shrink; and the media will leave. One question: what will result from this tragic event? Most say that it will unite us; some say it won't. Many say it will propel political leadership; others say new leaders will be fearful to commit to political life. Some say that political differences will be more widely accepted; a few say it will return to what has been.

Only time will tell. However, I can say this -- Tucsonians are connecting, hopeful and determined to move forward. We are standing up for our beliefs, honoring our differences, and most of all committed to keeping our beloved community as special as it is. Appreciative of President Obama's brilliant speech and the compassion he and millions of American have bestowed upon us, we look forward to the future with enthusiasm.

*Sally Stevens is the Executive Director of the Southwest Institute for Research (SIROW) at the University of Arizona in Tuscon. SIROW was the recipient of NCRW’s 2009 Diversity & Inclusion Member Center Award.

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