Christina Taylor Green's slaying has profound impact on Tucson children

Outside the University Medical Center in Tucson, residents are still coming with candles, flowers, gifts and kind words for the victims of Saturday's mass shooting. The event is one of many that is helping the city of Tucson heal, and more forward positively.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, January 13, 2011; 12:10 AM

TUCSON - The bodies of the six dead will be buried here beginning Thursday, and the first in a series of ceremonies set to take place across this grieving city will be perhaps the most poignant.

A 9-year-old girl who was recently elected to the student council, who went to a supermarket last weekend to meet her congresswoman and learn more about government, will have her funeral at a Catholic church just a few miles from where a gunman took her life.

The slaying of Christina Taylor Green has had an especially profound impact on the children of this desert city. At memorials across Tucson, kids and their parents have left teddy bears and yellow daisies, candles and get-well-soon balloons. They've written cards, drawn peace signs and tied ribbons.

Adults have grappled with how to explain to confused children why a strange man would allegedly shoot and kill Christina for no apparent reason. At Mesa Verde Elementary School, teachers consoled Christina's distraught classmates, who have covered a fence near the jungle gym with messages for the third-grader.

"Christina, we love you from the bottom of are [sic] heart," read one.

"You were always a sister to me . . . and always will be," wrote her best friend, Serenity. She included a picture from their first sleepover.

Since Saturday's shooting rampage, children have passed by University Medical Center, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and other victims are being treated. At a vigil on the hospital's front lawn, kids have left letters that are testimonials to their innocence.

"Dear Gabrielle Giffords," sixth-grader Briana Aruizu wrote in pink ink. "I am sorry you got shot. I am glad you are safe in the hospital. . . . Christina Taylor Green is in heaven now. I did not know why all of this happened to you. I am so sorry."

Isabel Lopez, 11, left a note to Giffords in a blue box on her way to school Tuesday. Her class made a prayer chain Monday, and Isabel's message quoted Gandhi: "Hate the sin, love the sinner."

"I hope she can look out her window and see all of this," Isabel said. Her mother, Maria, tearfully looked down at Isabel. Earlier this week, after watching the news at home, Isabel asked her mother, "Are we safe in Tucson?"

"Yes," she told her. "It is just one sad individual."

Susie Huhn, executive director of Casa de Los Ninos, a nonprofit group that works with neglected children, said Tucson's young are asking, "Why is my world all of a sudden turned upside down?"

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