A little over a year ago I suspect like most other people in the UK I couldn't tell you the name of the Representative for the Arizona 8th District in Congress.
But when she was holding a Congress on Your Corner event in the Safeway store in Casas Adobes, to the NW of Tuscon her name became etched on many people's memory. Not because she was going out to meet the people but because of the actions of a gunman who shot her and , killed a staffer, a Federal Judge, 3 pensioners and a girl born on 11 September 2001 (yes that 9-11). Eleven others were injured in the shooting.
That congresswoman was Gabriele Giffords. Her recovery since then has been long and arduous, but none the less a little miraculous. She survived a head injury and has spent the past year getting back her motions, her speech, her cognitive functions, if not her memories of the day those shots rang out.
When she appeared in the House of Representatives on 1 August 2001, her first appearance there since the shooting, to vote in support of raising the debt limit ceiling, she received a standing ovation from her colleagues. She had previously been seen in public on 16 May at Kennedy Space Centre to see the launch of the last USS Endeavour Space Shuttle mission under the command of her husband Captain Mark E. Kelly. On that mission her wedding ring went into space with her husband while she kept his on earth awaiting his return.
On Sunday she announced that she would be stepping down from Congress this week, as she still had recovery ahead. However, she also promised that we hadn't seen the last of her and that she will be back. I certainly hope so.
So Gabby I wish you well as you continue to recover and I hope that the world has not seen the last of you as an active politician. You thank the people of the Arizona 8th for their patience, of the world for their prayers, but I'm sure we all want to thank you for the inspiration you have been over the last year.
Here is her announcement video.