Lessons from Gabrielle Giffords

I will cherish this memory.  A unanimous vote in the US Congress.  A rare thing of beauty it was, although the reason for it was heart wrenchingly sad.  Rep. Gabrielle Giffords submitted her last piece of legislation before resigning as a US representative of the state of Arizona.  Watching her complete this task, take her last vote, and submit her resignation was much harder for me than I anticipated.  And yet, it was truly one of those profiles in courage that we’re seeing less and less these days.  It was something I felt I absolutely had to rearrange my schedule to watch, recording for history my own memories of the good things in life.

The memory of her walking up the stairs to the Speaker’s podium still brings me to tears.  While it was happening “live on TV” I remember feeling a little bit of anger at this.  Why couldn’t Speaker Boehner meet her half-way down the steps or something?  Why make her climb all those difficult stairs?  And then a news commentator provided a different perspective; it was Giffords’ insistence that she wanted to deliver her resignation to him in person herself. She had to do it. She had to climb those stairs and meet the Speaker of the House in his space.  She had to show all of us – herself, members of Congress, and the viewing public that she (and we) can overcome any obstacles if she (we) wanted it badly enough.

Ah, the lessons Gabby has taught us all this past year. Pain and triumph over it. Courage and facing our deepest fears. Persistence, persistence, and persistence again. Honoring commitments made and being conscientious in keeping our promises.  Responsibility. Loyalty. Hard work and dedication. Trust. And Love.  Old fashioned values, coming back into favor (I hope). We could learn a lot from Gabrielle Giffords!  It is often hard to do the right things, and it might take a lot of extra work.  Oh, but the rewards! Seeing people who cannot get along actually shake hands and talk with each other, even help each other as Rep Jeff Flake (Republican) helped Gabby (Democrat), is something I call a miracle in today’s political world. She inspired an entire Congress to set aside their bickering for almost an entire hour!  I think that must be a record.

So many people love this person called Gabby, whether they know her personally or not.  Of course, she had help.  An incredible family and an incredible staff who kept her office running smoothly.  It was wonderful to see Congress recognize her staff as well, another rare event in the life of Congress.  Maybe there is hope…. well, at least I have my memory of this rare event of unity to pull out when the bickering begins again.  For now, I challenge all elected officials to be more like Gabby.   I also pay tribute to Gabrielle Giffords.  I look forward to the day that she can return to Congress as our Representative.

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