Updated 2:50 p.m. ET
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot in the head a year ago at a district event, announced in a video posted on YouTube Sunday that she will resign from Congress this week, in order to focus on her medical recovery.
Giffords was upbeat in making the announcement, but it was an acknowledgment that the severe injuries she suffered in the shooting, including profound brain damage and cognitive impairment, had ultimately forced her to relinquish the seat in Congress that had made her a target in the first place.
A combination of luck, top-flight medical treatment and personal strength had enabled Giffords to survive the massive trauma to her brain caused by the shooting that left six others dead, including a Giffords aide and a federal district judge. After the initial shock and once it became clear Giffords would survive her injuries, supporters not only entertained the thought of her running for re-election in 2012, but even seeking the Senate seat of the retiring Jon Kyl, an office for which she would have been a leading contender prior to the shooting.
Today’s announcement was a sober reminder of the damage inflicted by the mentally disturbed lone gunman accused in the shooting, Jared Loughner.
The Arizona Daily Star reports:
Before she leaves office, Giffords will finish her Congress On Your Corner event that was interrupted by a gunman on Jan. 8, 2011. In a private gathering in Tucson, Giffords will meet with some of the people who were at the event, her staff said.
“Arizona is my home, always will be. A lot has happened over the past year. We cannot change that. But I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. Jobs, border security, veterans. We can do so much more by working together,” Giffords said in the message.
“I don’t remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover.
“I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week. I’m getting better. Every day, my spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country. Thank you very much.”