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Kennedy Library Honors Gabrielle Giffords With Courage Award

Vicki Chen |
May 5, 2013 | 7:45 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Gabrielle Giffords received the Profile in Courage Award from the Kennedy Library Sunday for her work towards preventing gun violence.

President Barack Obama greets former Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, in the Oval Office after they testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, Jan. 30, 2013. (The White House/Flickr)
President Barack Obama greets former Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, in the Oval Office after they testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, Jan. 30, 2013. (The White House/Flickr)

The former Arizona congresswoman was shot in 2011 at point-blank range and was nearly killed by a lone gunman in Tucson, AZ.

Caroline Kennedy presented the award to Giffords in a small ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

READ MORE: NRA Annual Meeting Has "Stand And Fight" Theme

The annual award is given to someone who "demonstrates the kind of courage that President Kennedy highlighted in his book 'Profiles in Courage,' which praised eight senators who risked their careers by taking principled stands on unpopular positions," according to The New York Times.

“Gabrielle Giffords has turned a personal nightmare into a movement for political change,” Ms. Kennedy said. “Her work is saving lives and sparing countless families from the pain and loss caused by gun violence.”

Since her recovery, Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly have been prominent voices in the national debate on gun control.

READ MORE: Senate Rejects Gun Control Measures

Following the attack in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 26 people at an elementary school in December, Giffords and her husband founded a lobby group "aimed at curbing gun violence and challenging the political clout of the well-funded gun lobby," reported The Huffington Post.

In receiving her award, Giffords called upon Congress to take action against gun violence, according to The Huffington Post.

"We all have courage inside," Giffords said. "I wish there was more courage in Congress. Sometimes it's hard to express it."

The remarks come just a few weeks after the U.S. Senate voted down a measure to expand background checks for gun buyers, a step favored by U.S. President Barack Obama and most Americans, according to The Huffington Post.

READ MORE: Obama, Giffords React Furiously To Senate Vote On Background Checks

An online Reuters/Ipsos poll released in January showed that 86 percent of those surveyed favored expanded background checks of all gun buyers.

Ms. Kennedy also spoke candidly about her father, President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963. She was five years old at the time. Nov. 22 will mark the 50th anniversary of her father's death. 

“Our family is still suffering the heartbreak caused by gun violence,” Ms. Kennedy said.

Gun violence also took the life of Kennedy's uncle, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, in 1968. 

“No one should have to lose a husband, a wife, a father, a child to senseless murder,” Ms. Kennedy said. “But as our honoree has shown, out of that pain and tragedy, we must find the strength to carry on, to give meaning to our lives, and to build a more just and peaceful world.”

READ MORE: We'll Get Background Checks When Terrorists Go To Gun Shows

Before the awards ceremony, Giffords and Kelly visited victims of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing who are recovering at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

“We’re so sorry for the violence and terror you all have endured,” Mr. Kelly said at the awards ceremony, referring to the Boston Marathon bombings. “We know what that is like. We know how violence changes lives.”

Giffords said the two years since she was shot in Tucson have been difficult.

“But I want to make the world a better place,” Giffords said. “More than ever.”

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For Neon Tommy's full coverage of the gun control debate, click here.

Reach Executive Producer Vicki Chen here; follow her on Twitter here.



 

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