TODAY   |  January 10, 2011

Slain girl’s father: Price of a ‘free society’

John Green, whose 9-year-old daughter Christina was among the victims of the Arizona shooting tragedy, said that “in a free society we’re going to be subjected to people like this; I prefer this to the alternative.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> let us begin with the tragic death of 9-year-old christina taylor green. kristen welker has more on the little girl who could light up a room. christine, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning to you, meredith . community members are grieving all six people who were killed in saturday's shooting, but say the loss of a 9-year-old is especially painful. the day 9-year-old christina green came into the world was much like the day she was taken away, amid headlines of senseless loss of innocent lives. she was born on september 11 , 2001 .

>> she began her life with a tragedy of 9/11 and her life was ended with a tragedy here in arizona. but it was nine good years in the middle. so the tragedies were the bookends. the bulk of her life was wonderful. and we loved every minute of it.

>> reporter: in that short life, christina enjoyed dancing, singing in her church choir and playing little league .

>> she said, dad, i want to be the first woman major league baseball player.

>> not surprising, since her grandfather, dallas green was the former manager of the philadelphia phillies and the new york mets and yankees. at the mesa verde elementary school christina was an a-student who had been elected to the city council . the third grader's interest in politics began two years ago with the election of president obama who mentioned her in his remarks about the shooting.

>> we also know that at least five people lost their lives in this tragedy. among them were a federal judge and a young girl who was barely 9 years old.

>> reporter: barely 9, but eager to learn more about the political system. so when a neighbor invited christina to join her at a community meeting saturday with congresswoman gabrielle giffords , her parents gladly accepted.

>> my neighbor had invited both of my children to attend and the only reason my son didn't go was because he had a karate lesson. we thought it was going to be a positive experience.

>> reporter: thousands of people have visited a facebook page created in christina 's memory. she was one of the 50 faces of hope representing babies born on 9/11.

>> she looked at 9/11 as a time or a date that we should be hopeful, pray, and come together. what can we all do. not look back at the tragedy, just move forward and how can we as a societity of people make it better.

>> reporter: and ten people continue to recover here at this tucson hospital. this is where a makeshift memorial continues to grow for christina and those five other people who were killed. meredith ?

>> john green is christina 's father, good morning, john, and your deepest condolences to you.

>> good morning, meredith .

>> john, i know that you are with us this morning to honor your daughter christina and we want to do that. she sounds like a remarkable little girl , how would you describe her?

>> she was very special. she had a zest and spirit for life that's hard to describe. we talked about how tenacious she was, yet had a very good awareness and sense for people skills. and, you know, a very good balance because she had a very caring attitude. she -- not only was she competitive and tenacious, yet she also had, you know, a very -- just a -- a very good sense of caring for others.

>> i have heard the word kind used to describe her.

>> that's a good word. i mean, she loved -- she always took other people's, you know, thoug thoughts in mind when she -- she always thought of others first. and it meant a lot to her to -- especially her brother, they were very close. and i remember talking to -- listening to them talk, asking how he feels about things and she would always -- she would always ask how other people would respond to things like that.

>> you mentioned other brother dallas who was two years older and christina 11 years old, she was very protective of him. does he understand what's happening? how is he doing?

>> he's doing okay. they were such good friends. they were inseparable. so i don't think he understands the permanency of this at this time which is maybe a good thing. but he, you know, he's going to miss her as we all are.

>> john, saturday was just like any other day, except for christina , a special one in that she was going to meet congresswoman giffords and get a sense of politics and the way it works in this country. you were off i believe fixing up a house that the family was going to rent. when did you get word that something was terribly wrong?

>> well, i knew the timining of things during the day. things were unfolding slower than i expected and i got some phone calls from my wife to call her back. i was going to meet her around 11:00 and she asked -- she just told me to meet her at the hospital. and by the time i got a hold of her, she at that time still thought it was a car accident . you would never expect something like this to happen. of course a car accident is always possible. so it sounded serious because we weren't getting any information. but as i drove into the university medical center hospital, i knew something very serious was going on, because they had lots of police and lots of extra security. so as i walked into the emergency ward , i -- things began to get graver and graver. i just had a sense of doom as i walked up there. i saw my wife's face and i knew. i knew things weren't as they should b be?

>> i know doctors came out and said they had done everything they could, but she had sustained a bullet, i believe to her chest?

>> as he described it, yeah, they were very -- really good with my wife and my son until i could arrive. but as i understood, it went through her back and came out her chest. in her heart region. she was still alive when they got to the hospital. she's a fighter. but there was nothing we could do. and, you know, i think the only thing as a family we wish we had a chance to be there with her and support her, help her while she was down.

>> you did get a chance to see her afterwards, didn't you?

>> we did. it's a very difficult situation. when -- you know, not only for parents, but for the sibling, my son, but we thought it was important for him to be able to say goodbye. and both my wife and my son handled everything with grace and they were amazing. they were really amazing.

>> i hope you know and i think you do that people around the country, the outpouring of love for your family and condolences for your family, anybody that has a child is grieving with you, even if they don't have a child. but i know that even though christina was 9 years old, she leaves behind a legacy, you both feel that, your wife and you, what is that legacy? what do you hope that to be?

>> well, there's always been something special about christina and, you know, the way she came into the world, on 9/11 and the way she left the world yesterday is obviously one that everybody else will remember. we're going to remember her for the nine years that we had her. and she was a beautiful, vibrant, young girl . it shouldn't happen in this country or anywhere else. but, you know, it's a free society , we're going to be subject to people like this. so i prefer this to the alternative.

>> john green , we thank you so much for being here at such a difficult time for you and your family. our thoughts and prayers are with you.

>> thank you, very much.

>> and we're back right after