Only two women in American history have had Naval warships named in their honor since the country declared its independence in 1776: Martha Washington and--now-- former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords,
USA Today reported.
On Saturday, Giffords will be accompanied by some other trailblazing women at the commissioning of the U.S.S. Gabrielle Giffords in Galveston, Texas, including former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former second lady Dr. Jill Biden.
Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband, retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut, told USA TODAY, “I would say it’s probably the biggest honor of her career. She says that, but I would agree. It’s a really big deal to Gabby and she’s very touched by it, and you know, will probably think about this ship every day of her life and the people who sail aboard her."
He continued, "Ships named after living people are pretty rare. Right now, she’s in company with President Jimmy Carter and President George H.W. Bush that’s it."
Giffords resigned from her seat in Congress following an attempted assassination in 2011 in which a gunman had stormed a constituents meeting and opened fire on the crowd--killing six and wounding 12.
On the day of her retirement announcement, then-Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the Navy planned to name a warship in her honor.
According to Kelly, Mabus said, "Gabby represents somebody in our country that has showed a lot of resilience and fortitude and the ability to get back up when knocked down. You know, somebody who is willing to fight back when things aren't going their way and those are qualities of the United States Navy."