by Jim Nintzel
The U.S. House of Representatives will vote tomorrow to name a room at the U.S. Capitol in honor of Gabe Zimmerman, the "constituent whisperer" who was slain in the Jan. 8 shooting rampage. The press release from Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' office:
The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to name a room in the Capitol in honor of Gabe Zimmerman, slain aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Zimmerman is the only congressional staff member to be slain in the line of duty.
Some 402 of the 435 members of the House are cosponsors of House Resolution 364, naming room HVC 215 in the Capitol Visitor Center as the Gabriel Zimmerman Meeting Room. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Debbie Wassermann Schultz of Florida, a close friend of Giffords. Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona was the lead Republican co-sponsor.
Numerous members of the House today spoke in support of the bill, with a vote scheduled for tomorrow. Because the room is on the House side of the Capitol, the resolution needs to be approved only by the House to be effective.
There will be a formal dedication of the room in early 2012 when a plaque bearing Zimmerman’s likeness will be unveiled.
“We deeply appreciate this show of support by the House of Representatives,” Ben Zimmerman, Gabe’s younger brother, said today, speaking on behalf of the Zimmerman family. “This is a wonderful way to memorialize my brother, Gabe.
“We especially would like to thank the offices of Reps. Giffords, Wassermann Schultz and the members of the Arizona delegation for their work in preparing and supporting this bill,” Ben Zimmerman added. “We also would like to thank the tremendous number of cosponsors on the legislation and the House leadership for bringing this bill to the floor for consideration. Finally, we would like to extended our warmest sympathies to the other victims of the Jan. 8 tragedy and their families for enduring this process of grief and struggle along with us.”
Gabe Zimmerman was slain Jan. 8 when a gunman opened fire at Giffords’ Congress On Your Corner event in Northwest Tucson. Five other people were killed and 13 people were wounded, including Giffords and two other members of her staff.
Zimmerman, 30, was Giffords’ community outreach director and one of the first people the congresswoman hired after she was elected to Congress in November 2006. He is the only congressional employee in the nation’s history to be slain in the line of duty.
“Gabe was a beloved member of Congresswoman Giffords’ staff and was responsible for establishing her highly effective constituent services operation,” said Pia Carusone, chief of staff for Giffords. “Gabe was a dedicated public servant and a friend to all. His commitment to Arizona and to the democratic process inspires us to help each other as fellow human beings and as citizens of a caring nation.”
Before joining Giffords’ staff when she took office in January 2007, Zimmerman was a 1998 graduate of University High School in Tucson, a 2002 graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz and a 2006 graduate of Arizona State University, where he received a masters’ degree in social work. He also was a social worker assisting troubled youth.
Zimmerman’s legacy led to the establishment of scholarships in his name at the University of California at Santa Cruz and Arizona State University; the dedication of the Davidson Canyon Gabe Zimmerman trailhead southeast of Tucson; the dedication of a memorial in his honor near Green Valley; a bench in his honor at his alma mater, University High School; and the establishment of the Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown, a series of three races in Tucson.
The world came to know Zimmerman through stories in the Arizona Daily Star, The Hill, Roll Call, the Arizona Republic, The Washington Post, National Public Radio and numerous other publications.
A copy of the resolution and a biography and photo of Zimmerman are attached. The photo shows Zimmerman with a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence that Zimmerman and Congresswoman Giffords’ office helped bring to Tucson last year.
Numerous members of Congress praised Zimmerman’s work for Giffords today. Among them:
· Speaker John Boehner of Ohio: “It is fitting to honor Gabe Zimmerman, who gave his life while faithfully discharging his duties under the Constitution, with a permanent memorial in the United States Capitol. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve, and today we honor Gabe’s memory and his service to the House of Representatives.”
· Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California: “In permanently naming a room in the Capitol complex after Gabe Zimmerman, we honor his life, which was cut far too short. We remember his commitment to the constituents of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and his patriotic public service. We also remember all who have suffered so much because of that terrible day. May our remembrance of Gabe be a comfort to the many who loved him.”
· Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, minority whip: “Gabe Zimmerman was one of these passionate and dedicated staffers who loved his job working for our beloved friend and colleague, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. He was a bridge between the congresswoman and individuals and constituent groups in her district, fostering and expanding each day the most important relationships a member of Congress maintains.
“It is entirely fitting that we rename in his memory a room where, every day, members and our staff come together to further the representation of the American people. Every day when we enter that room, we will remember Gabe Zimmerman. Gabe Zimmerman died while serving his country and we honor him for that service. But let me say to every staffer who serves with us, by doing so we honor you as well, your contributions and the contributions of all staff who like Gabe strive to make this country a better one for all Americans. We send to Gabe’s parents our deepest sympathy for a loss that cannot be compensated, but tell them that we share their extraordinary pride in this American hero.”
· Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida: “On Jan. 8 in Tucson, tragedy struck this country in a shooting that shocked our nation and tore through the fabric of the congressional community. Six people died that horrific day, including congressional staffer Gabriel Zimmerman. He was a public servant who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country while doing what he loved — helping Arizonans.
“He was the first congressional staffer to be murdered in the line of duty in congressional history, and I can think of no better way to memorialize Gabe’s service and ultimate sacrifice than to have a meeting place in the Capitol Visitor Center forever carry his name and memory. I believe, as Gabby Giffords does, that our country has to be strong enough to come together to solve the challenges before us, and I’m proud that this resolution has the support of so many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”
· Rep. Raùl Grijalva of Arizona: “In very rightly honoring Gabe Zimmerman’s life and selfless work for his country today, we also honor the many congressional staffers who work invisibly to improve the lives of the people they serve. Gabe was one of many unsung heroes doing five things at once every day to make this a better place to live without asking for recognition. I’m very honored to support this memorial to his life and his work on behalf of his community, which meant a great deal to more people than we’ll ever know.”
· Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona: “Today, we honored Gabe Zimmerman, a man who spent his life giving back to Arizonans and making our state a better place. Though naming something as simple as this room will never be enough for such a sacrifice, it is the right thing to do for Gabe — for all he did for Arizona and what he meant to the congressional family.”
· Rep. Ed Pastor of Arizona: “This is a very fitting tribute. Gabe was a dedicated public servant who truly worked for the betterment of his community and his district’s constituents. He took their troubles to heart and worked tirelessly to help them find resolutions. This room will serve as a reminder of the true meaning of public service and Gabe’s unyielding dedication to others.”
· Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona: “This is a fitting tribute to a dedicated public servant. Gabe’s name and presence here will remind everyone who walks in these halls of the meaning of duty, service and of passion for a cause.”
· Rep. Ben Quayle of Arizona: “Naming a room in the Capitol after Gabe won’t help ease the pain of the family, friends and coworkers who knew him, but it will ensure that his life is forever honored. Years from now, when members of Congress and staffers hold meetings in HVC 215, they will be reminded of Gabe’s story and the tremendous example he set.”