Nightly News   |  January 13, 2011

Youngest Tucson shooting victim laid to rest

Hundreds of mourners lined the streets outside a Tucson church on Thursday to pay their last respects to Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old little girl killed in Saturday's shooting rampage. NBC's Lee Cowan reports.

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>>> good evening. this was another sad day for tucson , arizona. tonight, we're just now seeing the first images from inside the hospital where last night president obama and the first lady went from room to room, comforting victims and families. and there was great sadness today at the funeral of the 9-year-old girl killed while waiting to meet her congresswoman. not far away, congresswoman gabby giffords , shot in the head by that gunman on saturday morning, continues to defy medical expectations, and we've learned even more about her condition today. first, however, the first of several wrenchingly sad goodbyes in that city. lee cowan is live in north tucson outside the church where today's service was held. lee, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. it goes without saying that in situations like this, sometimes words just fail. christina tay already green was, as the president pointed out, uncommon in so many ways. really the symbol of everything that is good. while today was a chance for the community to say their goodbyes, it was also a chance to celebrate what she gave in her short nine years, and what she continues to give. they lined the streets for christina taylor green's final trip. that ended under a patch work flag that survived 9/11, her birthday. today, it was used to bid her farewell. the small signs of her custom made casket, blessed by the monks who donated it, said it all.

>> she began her life with a tragedy on 9/11, and her life was ended with a tragedy here in arizona. but it was nine good years in the middle.

>> reporter: a gentle spirit by every account, christina had been adopted by a nation and a president who, last night, grieved as a father, too.

>> in christina , we see all of our children. so curious, so trusting, so energetic, so full of magic, so deserving of our love. and so deserving of our good example.

>> reporter: a growing memorial outside her school encapsulates everything she was. an artist. an a-student. a dancer. the only girl on her little league baseball team, just elected to her student council . who never saw her 9/11 birthday as a grim day, but as she told her mom, as a day to make a change.

>> that there would be an end to terrorism, there would be an end to war, hatred, disrespect, that somehow everybody would come together, like they did.

>> reporter: which is why that flag is so fitting. the caretakers say it doesn't represent 9/11, but the day after, just the way christina imagined. what happened inside the church was rightfully private, except what her parents wanted the world to know.

>> she would want to say to us today, enjoy life. live it to the full. don't squander it. make the best of it.

>> reporter: and back at that safeway, where christina spent her last saturday on earth, thoughts turned not to what was lost, but what she has yet to give.

>> she knows that her parents are sad, but she's watching over them right now and telling them it's okay.

>> reporter: brian, it should be pointed out that congresswoman giffords' husband has only left her side at the hospital twice. once last night to attend that memorial with the president and then again to attend christina 's funeral, the first of six that will be taking place here over the next couple of days.

>> as we said, another tough day in tucson . lee cowan covering for us tonight, thanks.