It was during a meeting between then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson and her constituents on January 8, 2011, that a gunman opened fire, targeting Giffords, who was severely wounded; 18 others were shot, and six victims died, ranging in age from 9 to 79.
One year ago, on the 10th anniversary of the shootings, the memorial was quietly dedicated. It was the height of the pandemic, so it received little attention. It’s called The Embrace. Two berms curve toward each other. The structure is surrounded by desert blooms within six gardens, one for each of those killed.
On the inner walls, punctures that conjure bullet holes. At night, they look like constellations. Golden light illuminates the voids. Some of the bullet holes are filled with modern-day petroglyphs that symbolize the varied lives, values and ideals of each victim and survivor.
The Embrace honors the victims of a modern-day mass shooting, but it also symbolically and subtly references the way guns have shaped the region’s history, especially for the indigenous tribes, who consider this their ancestral land.