Gabrielle Giffords experienced the Capitol events on January 6, 2021, in a way BUT few of us can ever imagine.
She experienced the events as a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She served the 8th district of Arizona from 2007–2012. She knows all too well not only the building rioters desecrated; she knows the people who inhabit it daily. Many lawmakers there are more than faces on the screen or headlines on the news. They are former colleagues and long-time friends.
She experienced it as the survivor of an assassination attempt. Her life was forever altered on January 8, 2011, ten years ago last week, when a deranged gunman opened fire at a constituent meeting. Giffords was holding outside a supermarket in a suburb just north of Tuscon, Az.
The gunman killed six people, wounded twenty more, and left Giffords gravely wounded and near death. Watching members of the mob rove the Capitol’s halls and chambers — some with plastic “zip tie” restraints in hand — Giffords understood the danger lawmakers intimately, and their staff members were in.
And she also experienced the events as the wife of a sitting senator. Her husband, Mark Kelly, was sworn in on December 2, 2020, to serve the people of Arizona. He, as his staff, was at the Capitol the day of the attack. Giffords later tweeted:
It’s amazing to me that she did not tweet directly about her own terror but instead reflected on how she thought her husband might have felt on the day her life was nearly taken a decade ago. It takes moxie to live with courage and empathy, and Giffords has it. Here’s how:
Moxie turns agony into action.
In the immediate aftermath of her catastrophic injury, Giffords’ and Kelly’s focus was simply on her survival. She’d been struck by a bullet that passed through her brain, leaving her with significant traumatic brain injuries that impacted her speech, motor function, and vision.
Despite spending most of 2011 clinging to life and then undergoing intensive therapy as part of her recovery, Giffords returned to the House’s floor in August 2011. She carried on until January 2012, when she resigned.
But Giffords was far from retreating into a quiet private life. Instead, she turned her energy to advocating for stronger gun laws that would prevent what happened to her from happening to anyone else. She and Kelly formed a Super PAC that raised money to support gun control candidates.
In March of 2018, in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting, Giffords joined the March for Our Lives event in Washington, DC.
It takes moxie to fight back, and Giffords has it.
Moxie faces down fear.
The January 8, 2011 assassination attempt wasn’t Giffords’ first brush with gun violence. Before that, the windows at her office were shot out.
“I’ve been shot at a number of times in war in Iraq and Kuwait, and Gabby’s been shot at and hit,” Kelly, a veteran and former astronaut told the Washington Post in 2013. “We’ve talked about these things. She had her office shot out before somebody tried to assassinate her. When her office door was shot out, she didn’t quit and run and hide. She went back to work and almost lost her life over it. Despite that, she’s back at work now. Some things are important enough that you take that kind of risk.”
Giffords didn’t back down when someone first tried to silence her with violence, and even after she nearly died, she refused to be silenced. That takes moxie.
Moxie means true love.
Giffords’ and Kelly’s love story is one of mutual respect, devotion, and courage.
The couple first met in 2003 on a trip to China, but it wasn’t until a year later that they began dating. They married in 2007 just as Giffords was taking her place in Congress. They had a long-distance marriage with Giffords remaining in Arizona and Kelly in Houston, where he was a pilot and astronaut. They rarely spent more than a week at a time together.
That all changed after Giffords was shot. Kelly stayed by her side as her advocate, becoming for her the voice she quite nearly lost.
When Kelly won a special election for one of Arizona’s Senate seats last year, Giffords was by his side, holding the Bible as he took his oath of office.
Giffords and Kelly could not have imagined what was ahead for them when they wed in 2007, but their marriage has been a picture of strength and devotion. That takes moxie.
Gabby Giffords’ Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabby_Giffords
Astronaut & U.S. Senator Mark Kellly’s Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Kelly
January 8th, 2011, Tucson, Arizona Assassination attempt of Gabby Giffords: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Tucson_shooting