by Melissa Brunner
It is a journey to move from victim to survivor, and former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has traveled the road with dignity and grace.
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced Friday that Giffords will receive this year's John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award™. The honor recognizes "the political, personal, and physical courage she has demonstrated in her fearless public advocacy for policy reforms aimed at reducing gun violence," the foundation said in a news release.
“Gabby Giffords has inspired the world with her bravery and her dedication to making change through the political process,” said Caroline Kennedy, President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. “Instead of retreating following the tragic shooting that ended her Congressional career, she has recommitted herself to fighting for a more peaceful society free from hate and violence. She is a true Profile in Courage.”
The beginning of the second part of Caroline Kennedy's quote is what I admire about Giffords actions in the wake of the tragedy - a tragedy that claimed the lives of six people, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl Jan. 8, 2011. "Instead of retreating."
You may agree or disagree with the political positions Giffords and her husband are taking these days. You may feel that what happened to her is a reason to loosen restrictions on weapons rather than tighten them, as she feels. But at least she is not retreating. At least she is not allowing herself to be imprisoned by fear. At least she is seizing back control from a person who momentarily took it from her by taking a stand. At least she is showing the world that, while she was a victim, she has survived.
You can become a victim through no fault of your own. But you can pick yourself up and use it as motivation to move forward, even if it's for no one other than yourself. It is by no means easy and it will take some longer than others. People will take many different paths in making the journey. But, by that measure, to me, Giffords is a survivor.