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‘The Embrace’: January 8th Memorial nears completion

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TUCSON (KVOA) - A memorial to remember those who lost their lives in the January 8, 2011 mass shooting is in its final stage.

In January, it will be ten years since that fateful day. Tucsonans will honor the memory of those killed in a very special way this year with the completion of the permanent memorial in El Presidio Park.

It will be called “The Embrace."

“The name, The Embrace, was particularly chosen because of the way the Tucson community reacted after the shooting,” said Pam Simon, January 8th survivor and former Congresswoman Giffords staff member.

Pam Simon is a survivor.

She worked for then congresswoman Gabby Giffords in 2011 and was one of those injured that day.  She remembers the way that the people of Tucson came together building three separate makeshift memorials around town.

Simon credits Tucsonans for their resiliency, saying it was instrumental in the healing process.

"It certainly helped in my own personal healing, it helped my resiliency knowing the community was there for me," Simon said.

Sallie Badger is the wife of a January 8th hero, Col. Bill Badger.

"It's almost hard to believe it has been 10 years, but we will be very happy," Badger said. "Happy to have a place that we can actually visit and know that loved ones are remembered in that spot."

Loved ones like her late husband, Col Bill Badger who was hailed a hero that day, after he overpowered the gunman saving countless lives.

But in time, his health declined and he passed away four years later in 2015. She wishes he could be here to see "The Embrace."

"Bill would have absolutely loved that,  no one could ever meet Bill without his embrace," Saille Badger said.

"The Embrace" has been a long time coming. The memorial faced many hurdles over the years, from the time it took to gather public input to the selection of the memorial design and the move of numerous historic artifacts found on the site. But with the financial support of private donors, the memorial foundation pushed through.

"We're so excited that the memorial is coming to fruition," said Crystal Kasnoff, January 8th Memorial Foundation board member.

Congressional Legislation to make "The Embrace" a national memorial is still pending.

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Amanda Gomez

Amanda Gomez anchors News 4 Tucson at 4, 6 and 10 p.m.

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