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The Nation

April 2, 2011

Tucson shooting victim honored with 9/11 memory

ORO VALLEY, Ariz. — The silver angel lies just beyond the outfield fence, overlooking the field where Christina-Taylor Green once scooped up grounders.

The 9-foot, 11-inch-tall statue was unveiled Friday evening before the Canyon del Oro Little League season opener Friday evening in honor of the youngest victim of the Tucson shootings.

Christina-Taylor's mother, father and brother watched as a fire truck pulled off a cover to reveal the glistening figure.

"It's going to serve as a daily reminder to us that we had the privilege of knowing Christina," said John Ward, who coached her for two years.

The angel's hand extends out, its robes appearing to blow in the wind — a symbol of peace after the Jan. 8 shooting that killed five others and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The statue's height holds added significance because the numbers 9 and 11 are prominent in Christina-Taylor's life. She was born on Sept. 11, 2001 — the day of the terrorist attacks — and was featured in a book about other children born that day.

Besides a 5 ½-foot long fragment of an I-beam from ground zero, the Freedom's Steadfast Angel of Love also incorporates a 3 ½-foot-long piece of steel from the Pentagon and a large rock from the Flight 93 crash site, sculptor Lei Hennessy-Owen said.

"It's beautiful," said shooting victim Susan Hileman, 59, who was holding Christina-Taylor's hand when a gunman opened fire at a meet and greet held by Giffords outside a supermarket. Hileman had taken her to the event because the little girl said she was interested in politics.

Hileman and other survivors also were planning to attend the ceremony at James D. Kriegh Park, where Christina-Taylor donned a forest green and bright yellow baseball uniform to play for the Pirates. On Friday, her father, John Green, spoke of how being born on 9/11 shaped who his daughter was, saying she was touched that on her birthday, the country waives its flags highest and remembers those who were lost.

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