By Laura Segall
January 8, 2011, I was working at home in the Phoenix area, editing photos as my 5 week-old son played on his floor mat beside me, when I heard on the radio that a gunman had gone on a rampage in Tucson, killing a number of innocent people and shooting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head. As I photographed the aftermath of the tragic event on that day and during the days that followed, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fragility of life and how in the blink of an eye everything can change. It was hard to believe that something like that could happen. Maybe it was the emotions of being a new mother, but more than other events I have covered I personally felt the grief and shock of the community.
One year later I knew I wanted to be with Tucson as Congresswoman Giffords made a rare public appearance in her hometown. I could hear chanting of “Gabby, Gabby” from across the lawn even before I could see her. As she stepped on stage wearing a bright red scarf, with her husband Mark Kelly by her side, the crowd of thousands rose to their feet and cheered. I moved into position to try to capture the best angle I could as Congresswoman Giffords proudly lead her community in the Pledge of Allegiance. What stood out the most to me as I shot those photos was her huge smile that lit up the stage and everyone around her.