The youngest victim of the mass shooting in Arizona has been remembered at her funeral for her love of baseball, animals and swimming with her brother.
Christina Taylor Green’s funeral is the first for the six victims killed when a gunman opened fire on a crowd at an event for Representative Gabrielle Giffords, injuring the congresswoman, wounding 13 others and shocking the country.
The nine-year-old girl was born on September 11, 2001, and featured in a book called Faces Of Hope that chronicled one baby from each state born on the day terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people.
As the funeral began, Christina’s family held hands and paused in a moment of silence under the large American flag recovered from Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, then escorted the small brown casket into the church as little girls about her age cried. Several hundred other mourners, many in white T-shirts, lined a road near the church to show support.
Meanwhile, doctors said Ms Giffords continued making strong progress toward recovery. The 40-year-old congresswoman is moving both legs and both arms, has opened both eyes and is responding to friends and family, doctors said.
They have helped her sit up and dangle her legs from the bed, and she is able to lift her legs on command.
With her closest friends from Congress holding her hand on Wednesday evening, Ms Giffords opened her left eye and tried to focus on loved ones for the first time.
“It was raw courage. It was raw strength. It was so beautiful and so moving,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said of the Arizona legislator. “She wanted us to know that she was with us 100% and understood everything we were saying.”
Ms Giffords’ neurosurgeon, Dr Michael Lemole, called it “a major milestone”, and said the congresswoman was clearly responding to the gathering of friends and family.
The updated medical reports came a day after President Barack Obama travelled to Tucson and appealed for unity at a memorial service for those attacked in the Arizona shooting rampage, and he implored a divided America to honour them by becoming a better country.