Jan. 8 Memorial Foundation plans to take its time
Reporter: Justin Schecker
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - As the Tucson community joins together to remember the victims and events of Jan. 8, 2011, many are looking for a universal place in town to do just that.
The January 8th Memorial Foundation, which is planning the building of a permanent memorial, tells 9 On Your Side it wants to take its time.
"People have told us that it is more important to do it right than do it fast," said C.J. Karamargin, a member of the foundation.
Karamargin is also former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' press secretary. In the days following the shootings, he remembers the makeshift memorial on the front lawn of the University of Arizona Medical Center.
"It was transformed from a beautiful grassy area into almost a church-like atmosphere," Karamargin said. "The smell of paraffin was in the air because of all the candles that were burning."
While there are no set plans for the memorial, Karamargin said it's crucial to listen to ideas from the Tucson community.
"One of the thoughts was to have such a memorial in the heart of our city in downtown," he said. "Another idea is to repurpose an existing structure, like the convention center."
The foundation has also reached out to groups that built similar memorials remembering tragic events, such as the Oklahoma City Bombing and the September 11 attacks.
Col. Bill Badger survived a gunshot wound to his head on Jan. 8. He also held down the gunman until the first deputy arrived.
"Definitely, I would like to see a memorial for the six people who were killed on that day and we need to have a memorial built here in town," Badger said.
Jan. 8 survivor Patricia Maisch said the foundation should take its time while planning a permanent memorial. Maisch spoke with 9 On Your Side at the individual memorial dedicated in memory of the youngest victim.
The statue of an angel watches over the baseball field renamed in memory of Christina-Taylor Green. It features artifacts from the three September 11 crash sites because Christina was born on that day.
Unlike the memorials for the 9/11 attacks, Patricia Maisch said Tucson faces a challenge figuring out where to build its memorial.
"Those physical events were much easier to deal with the logistics of it because they are all on the site where something horrific happened," Maisch said.
Maisch and Badger visited the Ground Zero memorial in New York City during a trip to meet with Mayor Michael Bloomberg about gun control initiatives.
Badger told 9 On Your Side a memorial will honor the first responders, such as the driver who rushed him to the emergency room.
He added it will serve as a reminder for the need to stop future mass shootings.
"It makes you feel a lot stronger about we need to do something to prevent these from happening," Badger said.
For Maisch, the groups looking to make Tucson a better place are still the more meaningful memorials.
"I'm in favor of a statuary permanent memorial, but the living memorials are very touching to me," she said. The living memorials Maisch referred to are charitable groups, such as the Christina-Taylor Green Foundation.