BOSTON Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords received the 2013 Profile in Courage award at the John F. Kennedy Library on Sunday in recognition of the political, personal, and physical courage she has demonstrated in her fearless public advocacy for policy reforms aimed at reducing gun violence.
Giffords, who was seriously wounded in a 2011 shooting when a lone gunman opened fire as she met with constituents in a Tucson, Ariz., shopping mall, and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, have been lobbying for more gun control legislation.
This year, on the second anniversary of the January shooting, the couple started Americans for Responsible Gun Ownership, an organization that "supports the right to bear arms and responsible public policy on guns and gun ownership."
Caroline Kennedy, President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, presented the award to Giffords. The award takes its name from a book her late father wrote.
Kennedy cited Giffords' strength to carry on a difficult fight.
"Our family is still suffering from the heartbreak caused by gun violence," Kennedy said, referring to the assassinations of her father, President John Kennedy, and uncle, Senator and former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy. "No one should have to lose a husband, a wife, a father, a child, to senseless murder.
"But as our nominee 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."
Kennedy took a moment to salute the first responders and the citizens of Boston. Referring to the Boston Marathon bombings last month, Kennedy said, "All Americans have been inspired by the countless acts of selfless bravery and compassion we saw during the violence that struck this city on Patriots Day."
In presenting the award to the former Arizona Congresswoman, Kennedy said, "Gabby Giffords has turned a personal nightmare into a movement for political change."
Earlier Sunday, Giffords and Kelly spent time visiting victims of the marathon bombings at Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston.
"For victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, we extend our deepest sympathies to all of you who have endured violence and loss," Kelly said.
"Courage means doing everything we can to prevent other parents from having to endure that loss," he said.
Alluding to her disappointment in Congress' failure to pass gun control legislation last week, Giffords called for courage from lawmakers.
"I believe we all have courage inside," she said. "I just wish there was more courage in Congress."
"It's been a hard two years for me," Giffords said, "but I want to make the world a better place more than ever."
Kelly also praised his wife.
"There are people who make things happen. There are people who watch things happen. And there are people who wonder what just happened," Kelly said. "Gabby Giffords is a person who makes things happen."