Two fire trucks' ladders were extended into the sky at the entrance to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Tucson, where Christina Taylor Green's life -- cut short at just 9 years -- was being celebrated today. The funeral began at 3 p.m. EST.
A giant, 20-by-30 foot flag rescued from the rubble of the World Trade Center was hoisted up between them, creating an archway that John and Roxanna Green walked through on their way into the ceremony, CNN reported. Their sole surviving child, 11-year-old Dallas, was at their side.
Christina's casket was made specially by Trappist monks in Peosta, Iowa, and crafted from red oak. Five small crosses made from the same wood will be given to her family.
Christina was the youngest of six people killed Saturday when a gunman opened fire on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents at a meet-and-greet gathering in a Tucson supermarket parking lot. Suspect Jared Loughner has been charged with murder.
The child ended up at the political gathering as the guest of a neighbor, who brought her to meet her congresswoman because the 9-year-old had recently been elected to the student council at her elementary school. The neighbor, Suzie Hileman, was shot three times but survived. She was holding Christina's hand when the child was hit.
Hileman's husband Bill said his wife's first words when she awoke in the hospital were, "Is Christina OK?"
"There was nothing to do but to tell her honestly what had happened, that the girl had passed," Bill Hileman told another CNN program. He spoke of his wife's sense of guilt, while still recovering from her own bullet wounds. "She knows in clear moments, as a rational matter, that blame isn't hers, that it was an act of madness by a single individual. But I think any of us, particularly those as parents, can understand in weaker, darker moments, you're going to go to a place that is going to haunt for a long time."
Hileman described how he's been in touch with the Greens since the "just devastating" news of their daughter's death. "Roxanna herself, the day after her daughter passed, sent a beautiful, gracious e-mail to my wife, assuring her the love they hold her in, how much Christina had loved the relationship they shared, and just how supportive they were going to be on an ongoing basis," he said. "It was an incredible outreach by her."
"She'll always be with us," Roxanna Green said. "She's always a little bright light in our little family, and she touched everyone that met her. And she always will, she'll always be with us. She was a very special, beautiful little girl."
Christina was also eulogized Wednesday by President Barack Obama, who peppered his speech at a memorial service in Tucson with personal details of each victim in Saturday's attacks. He saved his final words for the 9-year-old girl.
"If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today," Obama said, according to The New York Times. The Greens sat nearby, holding hands. "We place our hands over our heart," Obama said, promising to work to forge "a country that is forever worthy of her gentle happy spirit."