by Jim Nintzel
The Daily Beast's Michael Daly tells the story behind this remarkable photo of Gabby Giffords skydiving with a Navy SEAL—and the challenges both faced since:
A friend of Giffords’s happened to mention the photo to The Daily Beast last week—and it becomes only more powerful these three years later, with the knowledge of what would befall the ascendant star of American politics and one of our most elite secret warriors. This image has been part of the skydiving photographer’s portfolio and now reaches public view for the first time as a portrait of the spirit they’d both bring to the ordeals that awaited them in the days ahead. To hear the story that accompanies it is to wonder if it isn’t the exact spirit we need as a nation to get us through these often bleak and fractious times.
Months after the photo was taken, the SEAL was shot and gravely wounded in a gunfight with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Giffords visited the SEAL at the hospital before she herself was shot in the head by a madman outside a suburban Arizona supermarket early last year. The SEAL then visited Giffords at the hospital. He found that Giffords was still Giffords, only more extraordinary given a circumstance that was too familiar.