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For Arizona Girl, a Life of Hope With Tragic Endpoints

President Obama and his wife, Michelle, at the memorial service. Next to the president is Daniel Hernandez, 20, an intern who rushed to the aid of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Next to the first lady is the congresswoman's husband, NASA astronaut Mark Kelly.

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Correction attached

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Christina Taylor Green was born on September eleventh, two thousand one, the day when terrorists attacked the United States. A book published the following year, "Faces of Hope," showed fifty babies born that day, one from each state. One was Christina.

Last Saturday, the nine-year-old girl was among six people killed by a gunman at a political event in Tucson, Arizona. She was the youngest victim, and the first to be buried. On Thursday, a flag recovered from the World Trade Center in New York flew outside the church where her funeral took place.

Services took place Friday at the same church for another victim, Arizona's chief federal judge, John Roll.

A neighbor had invited Christina to meet her congresswoman at a "Congress on Your Corner" event near a store. The third-grader had recently been elected to the student council at school.

Christina Taylor Green
Christina Taylor Green

But she also had other interests besides politics. She was the only girl on her Little League baseball team, and wanted to become the first woman in the major leagues.

The gunman shot and wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords and thirteen other people, including the neighbor who brought Christina.

On Wednesday, President Obama spoke at a memorial service held at the University of Arizona. He talked about each victim, including Christina Green.

BARACK OBAMA: "I want to live up to her expectations. [Applause] I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. [Applause] All of us -– we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations. [Applause]"

Doctors say Representative Giffords continues to make progress, although they cannot predict the extent of her recovery. She was shot through the brain. Police believe she was the main target of the attack -- the first shooting of a member of Congress in more than thirty years.

Officials continue to investigate the twenty-two-year-old suspect. Jared Loughner withdrew from a local community college after being suspended last September because of fears about his behavior.

Arizona has some of the nation's least restrictive gun laws. Arizonans have a long tradition with guns -- even Congresswoman Giffords talked about owning one.

Mr. Loughner did not have a record of crimes or mental problems that would have prevented him from buying a gun. Two men seized him as he stopped to reload, and a woman pulled away his ammunition. Some lawmakers are proposing to renew a former ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, like what the gunman had. These can hold more than thirty rounds.

But the National Rifle Association has worked hard to fight restrictions on weapons.

Many political leaders have joined the president in appealing for unity. But the shooting has also led to debate about whether or not the nation's heated political talk is enough to incite violence.

A majority of Americans believe heated political speech played little if any part in the Arizona shooting. That was the finding of a USA Today-Gallup public opinion survey. Also, only about one in five people said they believe stronger gun controls would have prevented the shooting.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.


Contributing: Avi Arditti, Michael Bowman, Greg Flakus, Jim Malone, Carol Pearson, Carolyn Presutti and Cindy Saine

Correction: The gunman in Arizona shot and wounded 13 people, not 14, as this story said. Six others died.