Giffords Leads Pledge at Arizona Shooting Memorial

Illustration for article titled Giffords Leads Pledge at Arizona Shooting Memorial

One year after a bullet went straight through her head, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at a candlelight vigil in Tucson. Giffords' recovery has inspired people across the country, but her presence at numerous memorial events today was particularly meaningful for those still struggling with the aftermath of the Arizona shooting.

Giffords's staff had announced that she wouldn't be speaking at any of today's events, but she did have a special role in this evening's vigil at the University of Arizona. In front of a cheering crowd, Giffords was helped across the stage by Ron Barber, her former chief of staff who was with her during the shooting. After her husband, Mark Kelly, helped her put her right hand on her heard, Giffords enthusiastically recited the Pledge. It was Giffords' final event of the day after visiting the scene of the shooting, University Medical Center, where victims were treated after the attack, and a trail named for staffer Gabe Zimmerman, who died in the attack.

Pia Carusone, Giffords' chief of staff, said that during her trip home, Giffords has realized just how traumatized the community was by the shooting. "It moves her," she said. "She sees how tough this is, and was, for a lot of people."

Today NPR ran a depressing look at how little has changed since the massacre. Immediately after the shooting there were calls for more civility in politics, but it seems that if anything, the vitriol has increased with the start of campaign season. Colorado Sen. Mark Udall touched on that point while speaking at the University of Arizona this afternoon. Udall urged other politicians to learn from Giffords, saying:

Although Gabby now struggles with her words at times, we know what she's trying to say ... It's a simple concept. Words matter, and these days you don't hear our elected officials using words to bring us together. Too often words are used as weapons.


Giffords, Tucson Mark 1 Year Since Shooting [NPR]
Subdued Remembrance of a Dark Day in Tucson [NYT]
Giffords Recovering, But Civil Discourse Hasn't [NPR]
Gabrielle Giffords Attends Candlelight Vigil [My Fox NY]

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Kat Callahan

I love me some Gabby Giffords, and I was a fan of hers before the shooting. Which makes it all the more difficult to have to think, as the political operative I was and the government student I am, that perhaps she isn't quite up to task of standing for reelection in November. If she runs, she will surely win, but as enthusiastic as she was, she had trouble getting the words out, said a few words that sounded incorrect, and lacked the motor control to keep her own hand up without the assistance of her husband. She also appeared to have an off-kilter sense of balance.

I'd like to imagine that Gabby is inside of her own head, and simply unable to get her body to do exactly what she wants it to, or say exactly what she's thinking. It's a disturbing concept, and probably one of my greatest nightmares, but at least that way she IS all there, and it will just be a matter of therapy. It could, of course, instead be that her recovery, as miraculous as it appears, has still left her with a severe mental handicap that will be far harder to recover from than her physical injuries.

In either situation, I am not convinced she can carry out the duties of a United States representative. A real shame, given how well she carried them out before the shooting, and given how many never-do-shit representatives we have in Congress. That being said, if she does stand for reelection and one of those never-do-shit individuals has the audacity to suggest she might not be up to task, I will RAGE HARDCORE. It may be true, as I suggested, but they have no right to say anything.

My cynical prediction is that Gabby will not run, and that party officials are already speaking to her (if she is mentally all there) or Mark Kelly (if she isn't) in preparation of selecting her successor... I will, of course, be delighted to be wrong, and to see Gabby out on the campaign trail kicking ass and taking names.