This past week, we were fortunate enough to have Daniel Hernandez visit Douglas. Daniel was the intern who was working for Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and was with her that tragic day in January, 2011.
Daniel first spoke to our DHS seniors about the importance of civic responsibility and voting. After that, he came to our monthly parent council lunch. Many of our district office employees and principals also attended to hear him speak.
Daniel told the story of that awful day. He told us about how he had just started working as her intern and was asked by Gabe Zimmerman if he would be able to attend the first "Congresswoman on the Corner" that was taking place that Saturday at a Safeway shopping center. He said he got there a bit late, as did Congresswoman Giffords, which was unlike her to be late. Daniel was helping people sign in for those who came and wanted a question answered by the Congresswoman's office. He said that he heard someone yell "gun" and then heard a series of gunshots ring out. He said that it was chaos and he ran up to where people were wounded. He checked and saw that some were already gone when he saw Gabby on the ground in a strange angle. He was hoping she got down before the shots came, but when he got to her he saw that she had been shot through the head.
Daniel had gone through Certified Nursing Assistant training in high school so he has some knowledge of first aide. He saw that Gabby was choking on her own blood so he propped her up and held her against him to try to stem the flow of the blood. He said that she was conscious and alert. When the paramedics got there, he was allowed to go with her to the hospital. He was able to assure her that her husband and parents were being notified.
Daniel told us that he learned much from knowing Gabby Giffords. He told us of her optimism, even in bleak times. He remembered the night of the 2010 election when it looked as though she might not win. She told him that no matter what happened, to never stop trying to make things better. She told him to find a cause that he really believes in and to do everything he could for that cause.
For Daniel, it is education and equality for all human beings. He also talked about kindness and treating people with respect. He spoke of people working together, which is so lacking in our society and particularly in politics.
That evening, I went to a Democratic rally at my friend Susan's house. Daniel told his story again, but this time with a political slant. There were many candidates there who are running for local and state offices. Daniel currently sits on the Governing Board in the Sunnyside School District.
It was beginning to get dark and Daniel had to drive back to Tucson after a very long day. I asked him if he would please meet my Aunt Teresa and he told me he had met her at the luncheon. However, he went over and sat down next to her and talked to her for quite some time.
Daniel is bright, articulate, personable, and charismatic. It is hard to believe that he is only 22 years old. He was thrust into the public eye as a result of a horrible tragedy. However, Daniel has conducted himself with maturity and grace. When asked about his plans for the future, he said he isn't sure what he will do. Right now, because of his age, he said he can only be elected to school boards or a dog catcher. I believe that Daniel will be a very positive leader some day.
I sent him an email thanking him for coming to Douglas and his reply to me was a thank you for having him down here.
There is hope for our future if we have young leaders such as Daniel Hernandez!! It was an honor and a privilege to meet him. I think we will be hearing his name in a positive light in the future!!