MOBILE, AL - The fact that she survived being shot in the head is a testament of strength and perseverance. Gabrielle Giffords said just one thing on the microphone today.
"I hereby declare that the keel of the future ship USS Gabrielle Giffords has been truly and fairly laid," said the former Congresswoman before the construction facility erupted in applause.
The former Congresswoman still struggles sometimes three years after being shot in the head during a mass shooting in her home district of Tucson. It's for that reason we were told she wouldn't speak to the media after the event.
Gifford's chief of staff did most of the talking during the ceremony on her behalf. Giffords gets this honor because of how far she's come.
"She reflects those qualities the navy holds dear, courage, resiliency and a fighting spirit," says Gulf Coast Shipbuilding Supervisor Captain Joseph Tuite.
This ship name is unique for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it's the first LCS to be named for a person.
"For her I know it is a huge honor and for the rest of her life I hope be connected to this ship," says Giffords Chief of Staff Pia Carusone.
It's rare to have a ship named after a living woman. Gabrielle Giffords is probably the highest profile guest at a keel laying for any Littoral Combat Ship.
Speakers took time to praise the former Congresswoman and praise the LCS program.
The Navy has talked about cutting down its original order. Congressman Bradley Byrne says he's hopeful the Navy will take the full order.
"We've got to make sure we understand the mission of these vessels and how it fits into our needs across the globe to project American power."
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced in 2012 the ship would be named for Giffords. She is the only living female namesake of a U.S. Navy ship.