(Photo: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., resigned from Congress Wednesday morning in an emotional address to the House of Representatives, assuring she will serve Arizona again.
Giffords, who survived a gunshot to the head at close range over a year ago, said that if she cannot return to Congress, her district deserves to elect a U.S. Representative who can give 100 percent to the job. She indicated in her speech that she is working to return to Congress one day and serve Arizona.
"Every day, I am working hard," Giffords wrote. "I will recover and will return, and we will work together again, for Arizona and for all Americans."
It was an emotional event as the Arizona delegation formed a circle around Giffords, while Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), fought back tears to read Giffords' resignation speech, according to The Washington Post.
Schultz spoke from the heart, saying that she didn't prepare a speech because she knew she wouldn't be able to hold it together for long.
"I'm so proud of my friend and it will always be one of the great treasures of my life to have met Gabby Giffords and to have served with her in this body," Schultz said. "We have all been through such a tumultuous year."
Schultz spoke for Giffords saying that it had been the greatest privilege in her life to serve her constituents in southern Arizona, whom she loves so much. She added that no matter what may be argued in the House, the most important thing is family and friendship.
"And I will always carry that in my heart, and even though I know we won't see each other every day, Gabby, we will be friends for life," Schultz said.
Giffords responded by whispering "Yes," before the two shared an embrace, repeating, "For life."
In just her third appearance on the floor since her injury, Giffords limped slightly to the House floor as House members paid tribute to her. She shared an embrace with her chief of staff, Pia Carusone, who led constituent services in Giffords' absence, according to ABC News.
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that Giffords' beauty lies in heart, soul and spirit, adding that the House has been made proud by her services.
"The House of Representatives of America has been made proud by this extraordinary daughter of this House, who served so well during her tenure here, who felt so deeply about her constituents and cared so much for her country," Hoyer said. "Gabby, we love you. We have missed you."
Giffords responded to Hoyer, saying, "And I miss you."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) cried as he held Giffords' hand when she handed him her letter of resignation. At that moment, the entire House chamber erupted into cheers and applause.