One year after a gunman tried to take her life, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords sat before a camera and announced she would forgo re-election plans in order to focus on her ongoing recovery.

Giffords’ ability to deliver the message on her own is testament to a remarkable comeback following a year of rigorous treatment after a bullet tore through the left side of her brain, cutting short the political ambitions of one of the Democratic Party ‘s rising stars.

“A lot has happened over the past year. We cannot change that. But I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better,” Giffords, 41, said in a video posted Sunday on YouTube in which she struck a positive tone against a backdrop of images of her life before and after the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting rampage at a Tucson event with constituents.

The shooting prompted a national debate about the coarsening of political discourse. In the wake of it, President Obama called on all Americans to engage in more thoughtful debate. “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost,” Obama said in a Tucson speech eulogizing the six people who were killed. Thirteen people, including Giffords, were wounded. “Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle,” he said.

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