Former representative Gabby Giffords, who was shot and almost killed during a mass shooting in 2011, made a powerful video for the Democratic National Convention about her long road to recovery, likening her challenge to what’s ahead for the country while plugging Joe Biden as the person for the job.
“He was there for me. He’ll be there for you too,” Giffords says twice in the video — which is split between a longer stand-alone speech and footage of her preparing with her speech therapist in Tucson, Arizona.
After nearly a decade of ongoing recovery, Giffords has aphasia, a speech disorder directly related to the head injury caused by the shooting. During a meet and greet with constituents, the then member of Congress was shot along with 18 other people in a supermarket parking lot in Arizona, the state she represented at the time. Six people died in the attack.
“I’ve known the darkest of days,” Giffords says, standing at a lectern in front of the American flag. “Days of pain and uncertain recovery. But confronted by despair, I’ve summoned hope. Confronted by paralysis and aphasia, I responded with grit and determination. I put one foot in front of the other. I found one word and then another.”
It’s part of a push from Democrats who, on day three of the convention, are zeroing in on a theme of resiliency, an embattled nation hoping to overcome a global health pandemic, economic downturn, and racial injustice. Former second lady Jill Biden set the scene the night before during her closing speech, offering her husband — who has also overcome personal tragedy — up as the candidate to lead the country in such grim times.
Giffords plays “America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee)” on a French horn in the first 40 seconds of the video, an instrument she mastered as a child but had to relearn after the shooting.
Actor Regina King narrated a portion of the two-and-a-half-minute video, which also incorporated Giffords’ activism around gun violence. “We are a nation ready to end gun violence,” King says, although she’s not seen in the video. "A safer America is possible, but from this point forward, we must choose courage.”
The two connected through a mutual friend after when Giffords’ team was looking for “a voice as powerful as Gabby” to help narrate the video.
“It was an honor to help share Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' story of perseverance and courage as part of the Democratic National Convention,” King said in a statement. “Her determination to never stay silent, against all odds, should be inspiration to us all.”
Giffords, whose husband Mark Kelly is running for Senate in Arizona this year, has crisscrossed the country supporting Democratic candidates in their fight against gun violence. In 2018, Giffords endorsed 75 Democrats running as challengers or in open seats of which 43 went onto victory, helping secure the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.
“Words once came easily, but today I struggle to speak,” she says in the video. “But I have not lost my voice.”