Music and Words

January 9, 2011

Making the Giffords Shooting Personal

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 1:50 pm

Yesterday morning, US Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot at close range through the head during a political event here in Tucson. Actually, this took place at an intersection I drive through almost every day, although I was at home at the time. The bullet went all the way through her head, piercing her brain, and she has survived. She went through brain surgery yesterday and is still sedated but she was talking both before and after the surgery. 6 people were killed, and 14 others injured.

This event, although tragic, doesn’t seem like it affects my family personally. We don’t know any of the victims, we weren’t there, and I didn’t even get caught in the traffic caused by road closures. However, I knew that Rep. Giffords was involved in the process my brother went through to get into the Air Force Academy. I just didn’t remember how much.

When students apply to a service academy, the application process is long and involved (to put it mildly) and one of the things they have to do is get a nomination from a senator or representative from their state. Doug interviewed with John McCain, John Kyl, and Gabrielle Giffords.

Each congressman and senator is allowed to make five appointments per year, as are the US President and Vice President. After his interview with John McCain, Doug was told that he had received a nomination to the Naval Academy, but as McCain’s third alternate. Three people would have to decide not to go, or be denied admission, for Doug to receive the nomination.

John Kyl told Doug that he was not going to give him a nomination because he already had one from McCain. The competitive nature and limited number of nominations means the senators and congressmen guard them very carefully.

Doug interviewed with Giffords, meeting her husband, an astronaut, in the process as well. She gave him a nomination to the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy. As it turned out, Doug was turned down by the Naval Academy, but accepted at Air Force. He’s in his third year there.

In talking to Doug yesterday, I summarized his experience by saying, “So, if it weren’t for Gaby Giffords, you wouldn’t be at the Air Force Academy at all?”

Doug responded, “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be at any service academy.”

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