Daniel Hernandez Jr. promotes memoir at UofA Bookstore
A UA alumnus and survivor of the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting in Tucson returned to campus to promote his memoir on Tuesday evening.
Daniel Hernandez Jr., who graduated with a degree in political science in 2012, discussed his book, “They Call Me a Hero: A Memoir of My Youth,” with fans at the Student Union Memorial Center.
“I’ve known him for years so we don’t really talk about the deep stuff, so it was kind of cool to get his insight,” said Kathryn Nail, a senior studying political science and English, in reference to the book. “Some of the stuff I had never known about him.”
Hernandez was an intern for then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at the time of the shooting that resulted in six deaths. Hernandez was proclaimed a hero when people talked about how he was the one who cared for Giffords after she was shot and kept her protected until paramedics arrived at the scene.
After being thrust into the public eye with countless interviews and traveling cross-country as a public speaker in the aftermath of the shooting, Hernandez decided to share his experiences and advice with the world in a memoir.
“When I was going to different places around the country, one of the things I kept hearing was, ‘Well, we met you and we found out who you were because of January the 8th, [but] your story is so much more interesting than just that one day and that one event,’” Hernandez said.
His book is separated into four distinct sections. The first section details his experience at the shooting on Jan. 8. The second discusses the aftermath of the event, including President Barack Obama’s visit to the UA and Hernandez’s invitation to the State of the Union that same year. The third section gives background on Hernandez’s childhood and the fourth outlines his future plans in politics.
“It’s not just about what happened on January the 8th, but it’s about my entire life,” Hernandez said. “The big thing about the book is the importance of getting involved, so civic engagement and public service are the two big things that we talk about in the book.”
Hernandez emphasized that one of his strongest motivations for writing his story was to give young people a positive Latino and gay role model.
“Getting over the comfort level that I had about sharing private thoughts and private things with people that I don’t know was I think one of the toughest things,” Hernandez said, “but it changed my life because it gave me an opportunity to hopefully be a positive role model for young people who are gay or Latino or even people who just want to get involved in their community.”