On Sunday, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords announced she would be resigning from her seat this week. She sent the message to her constituents not through a press conference, but in a personal message via the Internet.

The video, which spans just over two minutes, has the Congresswoman doing what she has always done best, which is being genuine about her love for Arizona, the nation and her constituents.

“I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice,” said Giffords. “Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery. I will step down this week. I am getting better everyday. My spirit is high. I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.”

Giffords spent Monday wrapping up her work, finishing the Congress on Your Corner event that was interrupted that tragic day last year, and visiting the Gabrielle Giffords Family Assistance Center, which served as her last official act in office.

President Barack Obama said, “Gabby Giffords embodies the very best of what public service should be. She’s universally admired for qualities that transcend party or ideology — a dedication to fairness, a willingness to listen to different ideas, and a tireless commitment to the work of perfecting our union.”

Giffords, whether I agreed with her votes in Congress or not, has always been one of those lawmakers that stood out because of her ability to step outside the title as Congresswoman and reach all her constituents on a personal level.

That’s what she was doing the day she was shot. She was standing outside a grocery store listening to her constituents. She was there to hear compliments from those who agreed with her, and there to listen to the concerns and opinions from those who weren’t as pleased with the job she was doing.

Giffords is the only politician that I have seen consistently speak on a personal level with the public through events such as Congress on Your Corner. She did it years ago when I covered Cochise County, she did it throughout the years when I was covering the Vail area, and she traveled all over her district to be up on all the news. She has never been a lawmaker sitting in an office in Washington. She is by far, one of the best representatives Arizona has had.

She may not have always voted the way we wanted, but she has always impressed me with her ability to try and work with both Democrats and Republicans. She has always listened to other ideas, and has been able to compromise.

Gabby has always made an impression on me. She is a driven woman who has made a difference in so many lives. As one of those young women working to make a difference, how can she not be hailed as a mentor?

Gabby’s smile and personality have stood out to me from her first election when she stepped into my office, introduced herself in person and talked shortly about her “astronaut boyfriend,” to my last meeting with her weeks before the last election where she talked about her “astronaut husband,” and about what she’d like to see happen in the next few years.

Little did I know that day, that a short time later all of those plans would be changed when a gunman opened fire on her and many other innocent people.

Now, as a constituent sad to see her go, we can only wish her the best in her recovery, thank her for her service and hope that changes are made to assure that such a senseless tragedy doesn’t end another innocent person’s right to hold office successfully without the threat of danger.

— Thelma Grimes

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