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The Two-Way
10:14 am
Wed January 25, 2012

In Emotional Ceremony, Gabrielle Giffords Resigns From Congress

In an emotional ceremony on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords handed her letter of resignation to Speaker John Boehner.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke on the Arizona congresswoman's behalf.

"This is only a pause in her public service," Schultz said with a shaky voice and with tears streaming down her face. Schultz then went on to read Giffords' resignation letter.

The cameras cut to Giffords' husband, the astronaut Mark Kelly, who looked clearly emotional.

In her letter, Giffords said she went from selling tires at her family's Tucson business to Washington, because of her "belief that there is no higher calling than serving my country."

"Always I fought for what I thought was right," she wrote. "But never did I question the character of those with whom I disagreed. Never did I let pass an opportunity to join hands with someone just because he or she held different ideals."

Giffords was shot in the head during a rampage at a meet-and-greet with her constituents, a little more than a year ago. Yesterday, Giffords attended the president's state of the union address and the day before she met with fellow survivors. Giffords announced she was resigning, last week, to concentrate on her recovery.

"Amid all that was lost on January 8th, there was also hope and faith," Giffords wrote in her letter. "This past year, it is what I have often clung to: Hope that our government can represent the best of a nation, not the worst. Faith that Americans working together — in their communities, in our Congress — can succeed without qualification. Hope and faith that even as we are set back by tragedy or profound disagreement, in the end we can come together as Americans to set a course toward greatness."

After Shultz finished reading the letter, Giffords walked up to Speaker Boehner, as the entire chamber gave her a thunderous standing ovation.

Giffords embraced Boehner, who was sobbing, and handed him her resignation letter in a plain manilla envelope.

"Everyday I am working hard," Giffords' letter concludes. "I will recover and I will return, and we will work together again, for Arizona and or all Americans."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.