I was privileged to be able to interview our Daniel Hernandez Jr., the man credited with saving Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ life. She’d been one of 19 people shot on January 9, 2011. This Mexican-American from Tucson is 20-years-old and has aspirations to serve in public life.
I asked him how his family is in the face of all this media attention. “I think they are all pretty overwhelmed. I’ve had experience and am a little bit more prepared. I’ve been trained to face the public. We’re relocated for a bit to be kept from the pressure. But also it’s really sad about the loss of the people, and Gabby because she was a family friend,” he told me.
I’d watched the televised memorial service for those lost, and let him know that his words had a healing message for the country, and wondered which was the most profound moment for him of the night. “The president made a simple but very very very profound moment when he said ‘300 plus million strong,’ and that is the statement that will stick most with me.”
“Out of many, one,” is the message Daniel reiterated throughout our chat. America does need to come together. He knows he is interested in running for office, but he has his whole life to see what direction it will happen in.
Currently he is working on finishing school and anxious to return to his internship at Giffords’ office. The staff has been amazing in that they have opened their office up to those who are grieving and maintained the office very well during Giffords’ recovery.
I asked him what his message to Latinos is, since he is seen as a role model. “Not just for Latinos, but for everyone, we need to come together. We need to make sure we are more productive instead of trying to destroy each other. We work to work together. Make sure we keep in our thoughts and prayers those hurt and injured. They need our attention.”
I asked what he would like to see Americans do to help victims. He is sure that keeping them in our thoughts and prayers is key, and he’d like to see things like scholarships for college crop up in honor of Christina Green.
Hernandez is an advocate for higher education. In fact, Hernandez drafted and advocated a bill on behalf of the Arizona Student Association. The bill, known as HB2668, makes it easier for college students to vote in Arizona.
“I drafted and handed it to some legislators who proposed and passed it,” he said. “It had to do with increasing advocacy to get people engaged in voting. If we have more people involved and working together, then we have a better chance.”
I thanked Daniel Hernandez for speaking with me. He said it’d been a pleasure and we hung up the phone.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.