They Call Me a Hero: A Memoir of My Youth

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Overview

Daniel Hernandez helped save the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and his life experience is a source of true inspiration in this heartfelt memoir, “an absorbing eyewitness view of a shocking event wrapped in a fluent, engaging self-portrait” (Kirkus Reviews).

“I don’t consider myself a hero,” says Daniel Hernandez. “I did what I thought anyone should have done. Heroes are people who spend a lifetime committed to helping others.”

When Daniel Hernandez was twenty years ...

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They Call Me a Hero: A Memoir of My Youth

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Overview

Daniel Hernandez helped save the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and his life experience is a source of true inspiration in this heartfelt memoir, “an absorbing eyewitness view of a shocking event wrapped in a fluent, engaging self-portrait” (Kirkus Reviews).

“I don’t consider myself a hero,” says Daniel Hernandez. “I did what I thought anyone should have done. Heroes are people who spend a lifetime committed to helping others.”

When Daniel Hernandez was twenty years old, he was working as an intern for US Representative Gabrielle Giffords. On January 8, 2011, during a “Congress on Your Corner” event, Giffords was shot. Daniel Hernandez’s quick thinking before the paramedics arrived and took Giffords to the hospital saved her life. Hernandez’s bravery and heroism has been noted by many, including President Barack Obama.

But while that may have been his most well-known moment in the spotlight, Daniel Hernandez, Jr., is a remarkable individual who has already accomplished much in his young life, and is working to achieve much more. They Call Me a Hero explores Daniel’s life, his character, and the traits that a young person needs to rise above adversity and become a hero like Daniel.

“His story is inspiring not only for his bravery during the shooting, but also for his commitment to education advocacy and public service, including his appointment to Tucson’s Commission on LGBT issues and election to the local school board. Photos of Hernandez with family, friends, colleagues, and political figures are included” (Publishers Weekly).

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Editorial Reviews

Erin Burnett
“I met Daniel Hernandez and came away feeling invigorated about America ’s future. We all watched Daniel in an incredible moment of heroism. Now, he’s made a life of service and whether he stays in local politics or hits the national stage, he will inspire America for a long time.”
Nancy Pelosi
“On a day of enormous tragedy, we saw great bravery and compassion. When Daniel Hernandez heard gunshots that fateful day, he ran toward them, ultimately saving lives. This moving memoir tells the story of how Daniel became the quick-thinking, courageous and generous young man who would become a national hero.”
Piers Morgan
"Daniel Hernandez is a true American hero. I have had the pleasure of meeting him, and it reminded me why I love this country: Only in America can a young boy whose mother was an immigrant land an internship with his Congresswoman and in the most terrifying moment of his life run towards the bullets to save her life. He handled his newfound fame with grace and dignity and continues to inspire people across the country."
Chuck Wolfe
“Daniel’s now-famous bravery is matched only by his remarkable sense of duty and deep respect for public service. His story should be required reading for young people wondering if and when they can make an impact on the world. The answers are ‘yes’ and ‘right now.’"
Arianna Huffington
“Daniel Hernandez is a shining example of civic duty and resilience in the face of hardship. His story will inspire young people everywhere and remind us all that there are true heroes among us.”
Shepard Smith
“Daniel Hernandez did not become an extraordinary man on that horrible day in Tucson; that’s just when the world learned of him.”
Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
The morning of January 8t, 2011 started like many others in Tucson, Arizona. Daniel Hernandez, a young University of Arizona student who had just begun an internship in the office of Gabrielle Giffords, Congresswoman from Tucson, had arrived a few minutes later than he had planned at the Safeway parking lot to help set up for an event featuring the Congresswoman talking to her constituents. Other volunteers and staffers were already there when he arrived and some of Giffords’ constituents and supporters began arriving as well. The event was scarcely underway when Hernandez heard what he thought were fireworks, and then someone said “Gun.” In the few seconds that followed, nineteen people were shot and six of them died. Hernandez rushed toward Ms. Giffords who was about forty feet from him and pulled her into his lap elevating her head and putting pressure on her head wound with his bare hand. Those actions very likely saved the Congresswoman’s life, but Hernandez does not like the title “hero.” This memoir recounts his youth in a Latino area of Tucson and his early realization that education is a key to helping people make their lives better. The media attention that followed his responsible actions changed his life in many ways. Young readers will find inspiration in reading about his life, particularly if they have been the victims of bullying because of race or weight or sexuality. Recommended. Reviewer: Ellen Welty; Ages 12 up.
Publishers Weekly
Hernandez, who was a 20-year-old intern for U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords when she was shot by a gunman in January 2011, was thrust into the media spotlight and praised for his actions during the assault. His tense, moment-by-moment recounting of the shooting spree is gripping; from there, Hernandez, working with Rubin (Music Was IT), describes the ensuing torrent of media interviews, then backtracks to provide a detailed account of his school years, when he mastered English, thrived academically, and resisted peer pressure despite bullying over his size, sexuality, and Mexican-American background. Throughout, Hernandez strikes a tone that is humble, earnest, and impassioned (“I felt shy about accepting the title of ‘hero,’ but I was beginning to learn how to take the compliments,” he writes), and his story is inspiring not only for his bravery during the shooting, but also for his commitment to education advocacy and public service, including his appointment to Tucson’s Commission on LGBT issues and election to the local school board. Photos of Hernandez with family, friends, colleagues, and political figures are included. Ages 12–up. Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Feb.)¦
From the Publisher
“I met Daniel Hernandez and came away feeling invigorated about America ’s future. We all watched Daniel in an incredible moment of heroism. Now, he’s made a life of service and whether he stays in local politics or hits the national stage, he will inspire America for a long time.”

“On a day of enormous tragedy, we saw great bravery and compassion. When Daniel Hernandez heard gunshots that fateful day, he ran toward them, ultimately saving lives. This moving memoir tells the story of how Daniel became the quick-thinking, courageous and generous young man who would become a national hero.”

"Daniel Hernandez is a true American hero. I have had the pleasure of meeting him, and it reminded me why I love this country: Only in America can a young boy whose mother was an immigrant land an internship with his Congresswoman and in the most terrifying moment of his life run towards the bullets to save her life. He handled his newfound fame with grace and dignity and continues to inspire people across the country."

"This account...hits all the right notes. Throughout, [Daniel Hernandez] comes across as self-assured but not full of himself, conscious of but not obsessed with his image and his status as a multiple role model, opinionated but not angry or preachy. An absorbing eyewitness view of a shocking event wrapped in a fluent, engaging self-portrait."

"[This] tense, moment-by-moment recounting of the shooting spree is gripping...Throughout, Hernandez strikes a tone that is humble, earnest, and impassioned, and his story is inspiring not only for his bravery during the shooting, but also for his commitment to education advocacy and public service."

“Daniel’s now-famous bravery is matched only by his remarkable sense of duty and deep respect for public service. His story should be required reading for young people wondering if and when they can make an impact on the world. The answers are ‘yes’ and ‘right now.’"

“Daniel Hernandez is a shining example of civic duty and resilience in the face of hardship. His story will inspire young people everywhere and remind us all that there are true heroes among us.”

“Daniel Hernandez did not become an extraordinary man on that horrible day in Tucson; that’s just when the world learned of him.”

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Hernandez, an ambitious intern for Gabby Giffords, was the first to reach her when she was shot on January 8, 2011. Having had some medical training as a phlebotomist, he knew to elevate her head and put pressure on her wounds until the paramedics arrived. He then rode with her in the ambulance and called her friends to report the shooting. Hernandez recounts his life as a gay Hispanic man growing up in the Arizona school system. He loved school and learned English quickly once the bilingual program was banned. A driven kid, he was bullied in middle school for being so focused on his schoolwork and for his large size. In high school, he took courses to be a nursing assistant and phlebotomist and campaigned for Hillary Rodham Clinton. After graduating, Hernandez attended the University of Arizona, had a job as a phlebotomist during the day and began working as an intern for Giffords in the evenings. His memoir is clear and organized, if a bit boring when he describes his focused early life. The heroic young man's story will be appreciated by politically minded youths as well as those looking for a role model.—Kathy Lyday, South Caldwell High School, NC
Kirkus Reviews
The young political intern who provided first aid to Congressional Representative Gabrielle Giffords after her shooting, likely saving her life, steps forward to tell his story. This account--written by Rubin, but based on lengthy interviews and cast in Hernandez's first person--hits all the right notes. Insisting that he's not as heroic as people who devote their entire lives to public service (though he vows to do just that), Hernandez describes the attack and immediate aftermath in sharp detail. He then goes on to chronicle the next six months of memorial and other ceremonies, meetings with President Barack Obama and speeches and news interviews by the hundreds as his background and personal details (he is a gay Latino) draw widespread public attention. He rounds out the narrative with snapshots (both textual and visual) of his south Tucson childhood, schooling and experiences in local campaigns, both for others and for himself (running and losing for university student-body president, running and winning for his school board). Throughout, he comes across as self-assured but not full of himself, conscious of but not obsessed with his image and his status as a multiple role model, opinionated but not angry or preachy. An absorbing eyewitness view of a shocking event wrapped in a fluent, engaging self-portrait. (bibliography) (Memoir. 11-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442462359
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 2/18/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 597,706
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Hernandez is a 2012 graduate of the University of Arizona who is credited with having saved the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords during the shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011, when he was an intern assisting the congresswoman with a constitutional event. He served as a member of the City of Tucson Commission on LGBT Issues, and is currently on the governing board of the Sunnyside Unified School District, where he attended public schools. He is dedicated to education advocacy and civic engagement. He is the author of They Call Me a Hero. Visit him at DanielHernandezJr.org.

Susan Goldman Rubin is the author of more than fifty books for young readers. One of her recent titles, Music Was IT: Young Leonard Bernstein, was a finalist for the 2012 YALSA Award for Excellence in Non-Fiction and won the 2012 Sydney Taylor Award for Older Readers. She lives in Malibu, California.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

SATURDAY MORNING

“GUN!” SOMEONE SAID, AND IT CLICKED: I REMEMBERED SOME OF the things that had happened over the past several months. There had been a campaign event where an angry constituent had brought a gun but had dropped it. And the door of Gabby Giffords’s congressional office in Tucson had been shot at last March, after the vote on health care. Gabe Zimmerman, Gabby’s aide, had come up to me that morning and said, “If you see anything suspicious, let me know.”

So I heard shots, and the first thing I thought of was Gabby—making sure she was okay. I was about thirty to forty feet away from the congresswoman. I heard the shots and ran toward the sound.

I don’t consider myself a hero. I did what I thought anyone should have done. Heroes are people who spend a lifetime committed to helping others. I was just a twenty-year-old intern who happened to be in the right place at the right time.

THAT SATURDAY, JANUARY 8, 2011, started like an ordinary day. I got dressed in business casual clothes: shirt, argyle sweater, khakis—what I wear to the office. Gabe Zimmerman had organized a Congress on Your Corner event at a shopping center just north of Tucson. Representative Giffords liked to meet her constituents in person and talk to them about what was on their minds, and discuss what was happening in Congress that they were concerned about. Weeks before, I had applied for an internship at her office, and they had accepted me halfway through the interview. I was supposed to start on January 12, when school was scheduled to begin. I’m a student at the University of Arizona and major in political science. But the office was short-staffed, and I’d volunteered to start early.

I had known Gabby for years. I’d worked on her campaigns since I’d met her in June 2008. She’s the kindest, warmest individual you will ever meet. “I don’t do handshakes, honey,” she always says. “I do hugs.”

Gabe had asked me to be at the Safeway market at the corner of Ina and Oracle by nine a.m. to help with the setup. By mistake I went to the wrong Safeway and didn’t get to the right one till nine thirty. Everyone else on staff was already there, and they were almost done with setting up folding tables and a few chairs in front of the store. I put a sandwich board outside the market near the entrance that advertised the event. Then I helped Gabe hang a banner from poles that read, GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, UNITED STATES CONGRESS, and the Arizona flag and the American flag. I made sure we had pens that were actually working so people could sign in.

Ever thoughtful Gabe was the consummate social worker. He was beloved by all who knew him for his kind heart and the good head on his shoulders. He was what we called the Constituent Whisperer, because he had the uncanny ability to take even the angriest constituent and calm them down.

It was cold that morning but clear. Pam Simon, the community outreach coordinator, went into the market for coffee. Before she went she asked Gabe if he’d like anything. But Gabe said no and instead made sure to ask her if she had asked me if I wanted anything. I thought it was so incredibly sweet of Gabe to ask Pam on my behalf. Sometimes interns are forgotten in situations like this.

When constituents started arriving, they had to go through me. I was standing with my clipboard to register them at the back wall of the market close to the adjoining Walgreens drugstore. That’s where they had to get in line. Gabby was about forty feet away near the entrance to the Safeway market. As people lined up waiting to speak to her, they wrote down their names, addresses, and phone numbers. We were keeping track of how many folks stopped by and how many lived in the district. I talked to everyone.

A girl named Christina-Taylor Green was there with her neighbor Suzi Hileman. Suzi signed in, and I made sure that Christina-Taylor got to sign in too, because she was so young and so excited to be meeting a congresswoman. I asked Christina-Taylor how old she was, and she told me she was nine. And I asked her what school she went to, and she said Mesa Verde Elementary. We talked briefly about her being on the student council. Then she said she wanted to ask Gabby a question, but she didn’t want to ask something stupid and needed help. We had information on the table that had been issued, in the form of press releases, on the accomplishments of the congresswoman. Even though it was way over Christina-Taylor’s head, I gave her copies of three different press releases.

Then I went to the back of the line to continue registering people.

Gabe had set up stanchions, the metal poles with polyester bands that are used at banks to help customers form lines. He liked to have them at events so that we had a clearly defined entry and a clearly defined exit. There were chairs against the brick wall where those at the very front could sit before speaking to the congresswoman.

At 9:55 Gabby pulled up in her car. At ten o’clock she greeted everyone and said, “Thank you for being with us on a chilly Saturday morning.” She wore a bright red jacket. Gabe stood nearby in case a constituent were to ask for help from the office. Ron Barber, Gabby’s dedicated district director, stood at her side as well, listening and watching proudly as his boss carefully and adeptly talked with constituents. Jim and Doris Tucker were at the head of the line, but the first person who actually spoke to her was Judge John Roll. He had stopped by to say hello. Then she talked to the Tuckers and Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard.

Meanwhile, at the back of the line, I checked in Bill Badger, a retired army colonel. Although he was a Republican and Gabby was a Democrat, he admired her and knew she would answer his questions.

I had just checked in Bill Badger when I heard what I thought was gunfire. It was 10:10 a.m. For about half a second I thought, Oh, maybe it’s fireworks. Then I heard someone say, “Gun!”

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    Bravo

    BRAVO GREAT AMERICAN HERO :)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    A True Role Model

    I am sitting listening to Daniel at a Educator’s conference. An INSPIRATION and awesome young man!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2013

    Sounds like he is cashing

    Sounds like he is cashing

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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