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Pelosi Remarks at Gabe Zimmerman Room Dedication Ceremony

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at a ceremony dedicating a room in the Capitol Visitors Center in honor of Gabe Zimmerman, an aide to former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was tragically killed along with five others in the Tucson shooting on January 8, 2011.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Good afternoon everyone.  As everyone was singing the praises of staff and justifiably so, I was thinking about talking about my staff and making me follow Mark Kelly and Gabrielle Giffords on this program.

[Laughter]

“Mr. Speaker, thank you for making this day possibly.  Debbie and Senator, Congresswoman, Madam Chair, thank you for leading the way on the legislation that made this day possible.  Actually, I know that the staff was a moving force in making this happen, but I can just tell you, watching Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz on the floor, that I’m surprised that instead of 400 cosponsors, we didn’t have 500 cosponsors on that bill.  She was relentless in making this happen for Gabe, but also because she knew how much it meant to Gabby and to Mark and to all of us here.

“Vice President Biden, you honor us with your presence, it means so much to have you here.  Congresswoman Giffords, Mark Kelly, we’ve already acknowledged Leader Cantor, Whip Hoyer – I see Kyrsten Sinema, a representative from Arizona here today, other Members of Congress but especially the staff who is gathered here. 

“As we join together today, as others have said, and as we all carry in our hearts, our thoughts and prayers rest with the people of Boston, with the families of all of the victims of this senseless tragedy.  Words are inadequate to console the loved ones of those who lost, who were at the Boston Marathon.  And that can be said of every tragedy, including Tucson, but we will do what we can to care for them.  We will pray for the recovery of the injured.  We are grateful to our first responders for any medical care that they are receiving, we offer our support, as Americans and as Members of Congress.  And we will ensure that justice is done.

“On January 8, 2011, another tragedy struck the hearts of our nation in Tucson, Arizona.  For Emily Nottingham, for Ross Zimmerman, for Gabe Zimmerman’s family, friends, and loved ones, for all of you, January 8, 2011, will forever be a date defined by grief and loss, by anguish and shock.  For Members of Congress and our entire nation, and our staffs, that date will be seared into our memories as a moment of extraordinary sadness and almost despair.  Yet, at the same time, January 8th was also a reminder of the courage of our colleague, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords – Gabrielle Giffords – of the dedication of Gabe Zimmerman, his fellow staffers, and local residents; of the beauty, of the beauty of the democratic engagement – of public officials staying connected to people we are elected to represent at that supermarket meeting.

“Today, those memories remain fresh in our minds.  With the dedication of the Gabe Zimmerman Meeting Room, those memories will officially have a place of respect and admiration in the United States Capitol.  There’s a reason why this is the first room, right Mr. Speaker?  Because there was a, really, an unspoken rule that there would be no rooms named for an individual in the visitors center.  That’s until the thought of naming one for Gabe Zimmerman.  So separate was this of an issue that, again, 400 cosponsors.

“By dedicating this room, we do more than simply remember; we honor the highest ideals of service.  Because that’s what Gabe Zimmerman’s life was about: his values and his service.  A real tribute to his family as a son and grandson they raised.  As his mother, Emily, has said, ‘it’s not his death, but his work and his ideals that should be recognized here.’  Gabe had gone to work that day for the same reason he went to work every day: to help the people of Tucson, to reach out to Congresswoman Giffords’ constituents, to serve the public and strengthen the community.  It was part of his ongoing, daily effort to make a difference – whether to veterans seeking the benefits they were owed, to families facing foreclosure, or seniors who had lost their [Social] Security checks.  As Congressman Barber said, he was a welcome sight in that community.  It’s the same thing he had done throughout this all-too-short career – as a social worker assisting troubled youth and as a member of the boards of several community organizations in Tucson.  That was his work; those were his ideals.

“Now, as Congress reviews the best way to prevent gun violence, we acknowledge the leadership of Vice President Biden who honors us with his presence today.  As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the ‘90s, and as Vice President, he has a deep understanding of these issues, and he is leading the way to measures that will make Americans safer and families more secure. 

“Gabe Zimmerman’s story reflects the spirit of service shared by the thousands of individuals serving as congressional staff.  Hundreds of them present here today.  Indeed, in honoring Gabe, we recognize all of them for their hard work, dedication – all of you, for your hard work, passion, and dedication.

“In years to come, visitors will come to the Capitol and see the name on this door and they’ll say: ‘tell me about Gabe Zimmerman?’  And I think we should tell them that this isn’t called the ‘Gabriel Zimmerman Room,’ it’s called the ‘Gabriel Zimmerman Meeting Room.’  That is where people come together to meet.  And hoping in the spirit of Gabe Zimmerman, we will have a meeting of the minds to make a difference for the American people.  Hopefully, in this meeting room, we will be meeting the standards of Gabe Zimmerman.  We will be meeting the ideals his mother talked about.  He will constantly be an inspiration to us.  That’s what we’ll tell people when they ask us, ‘tell me about Gabe Zimmerman.’  And though they may not know him, they may not know him now by name, they will know him by his service and his leadership.

“Today, we continue to pray for Emily, Ross, and the entire Zimmerman family.  We hope it’s a comfort to you that so many people appreciate what Gabe has been, the inspiration he continues to be, and that he will be forever remembered in the Capitol of the United States.

“Thank you.