Screen shot from AP video
Daniel Hernandez, the young college intern who came to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' rescue after she was shot earlier this month in Tucson, will attend President Obama's State of the Union Address as a guest of Michelle Obama, along with the family of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who died in the Jan. 8 attack at a Tucson grocery store that killed six and injured several others.
Here's what Hernandez, who turns 21 today, told USA Today:
"It's definitely a very exciting way to be spending my 21st birthday," Hernandez said in an interview. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I only wish it had happened under different circumstances."
In the weeks since the shooting, Hernandez has drawn a legion of fans, in part because of his heroism, in part because he also happens to be Latino and openly gay
"On Saturday, we all became Tucsonans. On Saturday, we all became Arizonans. And above all, we all became Americans."
- Daniel Hernandez, the intern credited with saving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's life during last Saturday's shooting in Tucson
In addition to being impressively courageous, 20-year-old University of Arizona student Daniel Hernandez turns out to be an impressive public speaker.
Hernandez spoke at the memorial service held at the university in Tucson tonight, also attended by President Obama. During his speech, Hernandez begged off the title of "hero," saying it belonged to others, among them his boss, Giffords. But Obama called him a hero anyway.
Hernandez had been working for Giffords for five days Saturday when suspected gunman Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a public event outside a grocery store. Six were killed, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl, and several others injured. Hernandez ran to the victims as he heard the shots, taking the pulses of those on the ground, stemming the bleeding from the bullet wound on Giffords' forehead and preventing her from choking.
Jan Brewer now honoring Daniel Hernandez as hero, which he is.
What if Daniel Hernandez were a DREAM Act candidate? would she honor him then?
Of course, it's not the only tweet of the moment concerning Daniel Hernandez, the 20-year-old, openly gay Latino intern who is credited with saving the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, his boss, on Saturday in the Tucson shooting rampage that left six dead and many others injured.
Perhaps the most popular tweet of many tonight, when Hernandez appeared on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, came from the certified account of filmmaker-activist Michael Moore, @MMFlint: "20yr old Daniel Hernandez credited w/ saving Rep. Giffords life. "Hernandez?" Is that legal? Arizona, have u checked his papers?"
But then Moore already gets plenty of attention. The tweet above came from a lesser-known but avid Twitter user and blogger named Karoli who, like others captured by the story, saw irony in it. Hernandez, who is dark-skinned, was honored today in Arizona by Brewer, the governor who signed SB 1070, the anti-immigration law whose critics have warned could lead to racial profiling.
Much has been made by now of the story of Daniel Hernandez, the 20-year-old intern credited with likely saving the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after Saturday's assassination attempt and shooting rampage in Tucson. The University of Arizona student ran toward the victims after hearing shots fired, checking the pulses of those on the ground and holding Giffords upright as he applied constant pressure to the wound on her forehead. Even after help arrived, he didn't leave her side. He had been on the job with Giffords' office for five days.
At first, it was simply news that he was heroic. It then became news that he was heroic while also being Latino and gay.
In another place at another time, only the heroism would have mattered. But because this occurred in 2011 in Arizona, where it's no secret that Latinos and gays have felt slighted by some of their political leaders, Hernandez's act of bravery has become as much symbolic as heroic.
Photo by Tom Peck/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Border fence in Cochise County, AZ
It's a given that the suspected gunman in the fatal shooting that left six dead and critically wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords this weekend in Tucson wasn't acting purely on the political rhetoric coming out of the Grand Canyon State, nor on Sarah Palin's map of congressional districts with crosshairs over them. As with most things, it's much more complicated than that.
But Saturday's tragedy, regardless of the shooter's motive, has opened up a discussion that is still worth having. The incident has led to a national conversation about the political tone that has been coming out of Arizona, and much of that has to do with immigration politics - and, yes, the surrounding rhetoric.
The state is embroiled in controversy over its SB 1070 illegal immigration law, another new law that has essentially banned a Mexican American studies program, and the championing by some conservative political leaders of a national movement to deny U.S. citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants.