The US congresswoman who was shot in the head at an Arizona rally in January last year submitted her resignation on Wednesday. Gabrielle Giffords, whose remarkable recovery stirred America, received a standing ovation from her colleagues.
AFP - The US Congress, in a rare show of unity, gave an emotional sendoff Wednesday to Gabrielle Giffords, the lawmaker who was critically injured after being shot by a deranged gunman, and who is leaving office to focus on her recovery.
Amid extraordinary scenes belying the almost-constant bitter partisanship of recent years, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle paid tribute to the congresswoman, who has made remarkable progress after her near-fatal shooting a little more than a year ago.
Giffords, who had been shot at point-blank range in the head, has made what many call a miraculous recovery, but continues to speak haltingly and walks with a pronounced limp.
The Arizona lawmaker, who vows she will return to public service when she is fully recovered, was hailed by Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi as "an inspiring symbol of determination and courage to millions of Americans."
"You will be missed in the House of Representatives, but your legacy in this Congress and your leadership in our nation will certainly endure," Pelosi said.
Elegantly coiffed and wearing a polished suit but walking with difficulty, Giffords was kissed and embraced in the chamber by scores of by well-wishing representatives from her state of Arizona and elsewhere.
In a tender moment, aided by her close friend and fellow Democratic lawmaker Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she stepped up to podium where House Speaker John Boehner stood and handed him her letter of resignation -- prompting a three-minute-long standing ovation before she walked off the House floor.
Several tearful lawmakers paid warm tributes to Giffords, who was left fighting for her life after the January 2011 shooting, when a gunman sprayed the parking lot where she was meeting with constituents in Tucson, killing six of them.
"Gabby, we love you. We have missed you," said Representative Steny Hoyer, who is one of the top Democrats in the Republican-led House.
"And I miss you," Giffords said from her seat, to rousing applause.
A senior Republican lawmaker, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, praised her "courage, her strength, and her downright fortitude."
In a sign that Giffords still has much of her rehabilitation ahead of her, she opted to have Wasserman Schultz read aloud her resignation letter.
In it, she expressed "hope and faith that even as we are set back by tragedy or profound disagreement, in the end we come together as Americans to set a course toward greatness."
"From my first steps and first words after being shot to my current physical and speech therapy, I have given all of myself to being able to walk back onto the House floor" and resume her work as a legislator, she said.
"However, today I know that now is not the time. I have more work to do on my recovery before I can again serve in elected office," Giffords said in her written remarks.
"I will recover and will return, and we will work together again, for Arizona and for all Americans," she said.
Date created : 2012-01-25