Gabrielle Giffords, the recently retired congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in an assassination attempt 13 months ago, returned to Washington Friday for double honors. The Navy named a ship after her and she saw President Barack Obama sign the last piece of legislation she authored into law.
In a ceremony at the Pentagon, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus unveiled an artist's rendering of the USS Gabrielle Giffords, a littoral combat ship. The craft is among the Navy's most versatile and can operate in shallower coastal waters than larger ships.
"God bless the USS Gabrielle Giffords and all who sail in her," Mabus said at the ceremony.
Giffords was shot in the head and grievously wounded in January 2011 as she met with constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson, Ariz. Twelve others also were wounded in the rampage that left six dead, including a federal judge, a Giffords aide and a 9-year-old girl. Christina Taylor Green had an interest in government and politics and wanted to hear Giffords speak.
At Friday's ceremony, Mabus announced that Christina Taylor's mother, Roxanna, is the ship's "sponsor." Green's initials will be welded into the ship's keel.
In the months since she was shot, Giffords, 41, has been treated in Houston as well as Arizona as she relearned how to walk and speak. Her progress had seemed remarkable, but she resigned from Congress last month to concentrate on her recovery. Giffords stepped down on the day the House passed her bill by a vote of 428-0.
The legislation Obama signed Friday increases the penalties for using ultra-light aircraft when smuggling drugs into the country. The small, single-seat planes are an increasingly favored tool that smugglers use to fly at night and then release their haul without detection.
Obama said he told Giffords that he expected to see more of her in the months and years to come.
"I'm confident that, while this legislation may have been her last act as a congresswoman, it will not be her last act of public service," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.