“I don’t remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice,” she said, looking directly into the camera. The hair that had been severely cropped after the shooting now framed her face in soft curls. “I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week.”
One last hurrah
Before handing in her resignation to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), Giffords has some unfinished business. She plans to attend President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. And she will finish the meeting that was “interrupted,” her staff said in a statement, by gathering with some of the survivors at a private event in Tucson on Monday.
The announcement came as an emotional blow to many of her friends and supporters, who had hoped she would recover enough to run for reelection or even for the Senate. But it was not entirely unexpected.
For months, her devoted staff shouldered the burdens of her office while she underwent multiple surgeries and intensive therapy in Houston, where her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, lived. Giffords made a remarkable recovery, but with her term ending this year, her constituents wondered whether she would be up to the challenge of running for reelection.
In She the People, Suzie Parker writes that Giffords’ decision is the right one:
Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby’ Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, is doing the right thing, of course, in opting to place politics on the back burner and focus on her health.
Politics is not the most important thing in life, after all, though it can seem so to those in the game. Giffords needs to regain her health and spend time with her husband instead of focusing on an exhausting reelection campaign. In short, Giffords needs to spend time navigating her new reality.
To many of us, Giffords became a hero, a symbol of endurance and bravery, after she was shot in the head by Jared Lee Loughner on Jan. 8, 2011, at a Congress on Your Corner meet-and-greet in front of a Tucson supermarket.
Thirteen people were wounded in the horrific incident. Six people were killed, including Arizona District Court Chief Judge John Roll, one of Giffords’s staffers and 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green who, at even such a young age, possessed a keen interest in politics.
On the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation Web site, it says, “Having just been elected to the student council at Mesa Verde Elementary School, she was eager to ask her Congresswoman questions concerning the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and what it was like being a politician.”