Former Congresswoman Garielle Giffords, D., Arizona, is the only female elected official to be injured in an assassination attempt.
Giffords was left unconscious and in critical condition Jan. 8, 2011, after she was shot in the head at close range in an tragic incident that resulted in six deaths. She and 19 others in attendance at her “Congress on Your Corner” event were shot that fateful day outside a Tuscon-area Safeway.
It would be easy for Giffords to see the worst in her situation, not wanting to go on with life. Instead, she worked hard at rehabilitation, trying to resume her duties in the U.S. Congress. During Giffords’ recovery from her traumatic brain injuries, she received counsel from others who also had suffered similar brain injuries.
One of those individuals was Mike Segal, who also had been left for dead by a shooter after he walked in on a robbery at a Houston convenience store when he was a 19-year-old University of Texas student. Segal told Giffords that although he now could only do 200 things, rather than 500, he learned how to focus on and appreciate what he could do — not what he no longer could do. His story and others are included in the memoir “Gabby, A Story of Courage and Hope,” by Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly. Segal, who eventually became a social worker and cousels people with brain injuries, offered words of wisdom imparted by his father, a rabbi. During Segal’s lengthy recovery, his father said, “Mile by mile, it’s a trial; yard by yard, it’s hard; but inch by inch, it’s a cinch.”
Those wise words are applicable in many situations people experience each day. While a challenge might initially seem insurmountable, when it is broken down into its component parts and dealt with a little at a time, it becomes much more manageable and realistic to accomplish.
Giffords was elected three times to serve her beloved home state of Arizona and did so with courage and distinction. Her recovery has been equally distinctive and courageous with her doctors declaring it miraculous.
Though Giffords ultimately decided to step down from her seat Jan. 25, 2012 — a little more than a year after the shooting — to focus on her recovery, she remains an inspiration to many because of her commitment to public service and continual optimism despite injuries that would bring the best of people down. Her persistence and boldness to keep pushing forward — most recently with a January plea to Congress for efforts to combat gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting — show she has given the good fight.
Her boldness, no doubt, has pushed her recovery too — inch by important and significant inch.
— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher