Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. , right, greets Ben Zimmerman, brother of Gabe Zimmerman, who was killed in the 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shootings that injured Gabe’s boss, ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Zimmerman’s mother, Emily Nottingham, looks on.
Wasserman Schultz, a close friend of Giffords’, described Zimmerman as “a loyal, determined and talented public servant, someone who, as a true missionary of our representative democracy, unknowingly made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.”
Giffords, who sustained a near-fatal shot to the head and resigned from Congress last year to focus on her recovery, took her turn at the podium alongside her husband, Mark Kelly. Kelly delivered the remarks on behalf of his wife, who still has trouble speaking.
“Gabe was trained in social work,” Kelly said. Giffords, resolutely, echoed, “social work.”
“His whole mission in life was to take care of other people, to enhance their well-being,” Kelly said. “As the Social Workers Code of Ethics puts it, to ‘elevate service to others above self-interest.’”
Those who knew Zimmerman well said he would never boast about his accomplishments and that he made his contributions largely behind the scenes. And so the speakers at Tuesday’s event, again and again, echoed a similar refrain: that Zimmerman’s legacy spoke to all congressional staffers who put their country first and that the Zimmerman Meeting Room was in honor of every congressional aide who embodied Zimmerman’s spirit.
“Hopefully in this meeting room we will be meeting the standards of Gabe Zimmerman,” Pelosi said. “We will be meeting the ideals his mother talked about. He will constantly be an inspiration to us. That’s what we’ll tell people when they say, ‘Tell me about Gabe Zimmerman.’”
“I didn’t know Gabe. I just know ‘Gabes’ up here,” Biden said.
“When people say, ‘Who’s Gabe?’” he said, looking out across the room crowded with staffers, “they’re going to tell them about you.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.