Tammy Duckworth illustrates a bold refusal to quit

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    This cover image released by Twelve shows "Every Day is a Gift," a memoir by Tammy Duckworth. (Twelve via AP)

  • FILE - In this May 6, 2020, file photo, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Duckworth says the lack of Asian American or Pacific Islander representation in President Joe Biden’s cabinet is “not acceptable” and is threatening to withhold her vote on key nominations until the administration addresses the matter. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP) Greg Nash

Associated Press
Published: 4/22/2021 8:07:18 AM

Her fellow crew members initially thought Tammy Duckworth had been killed when a rocket-propelled grenade punched a hole in the helicopter she was flying in Iraq and exploded, ripping off her legs and severely wounding her right arm.

But Duckworth hadn’t endured rough circumstances as a child overseas and then as a high schooler in Hawaii to be deterred by that loss or any other obstacle.

Hers is an enduring story of how unfailing determination and a refusal to quit can overcome the most difficult challenges. “When the only obstacle is effort,” Duckworth writes, she will “move heaven and earth.”

Duckworth writes in her memoir that she never thought the war in Iraq was either “necessary or wise” but she followed orders to deploy. Duckworth’s persona is deeply rooted in Army lore; its values “the core of my being.”

Her book Every Day Is a Gift: A Memoir is “meant to be a love letter to my country,” Duckworth said. And how does America embrace the multi-ethnic nation we have become, find common goals and work though our sharp differences to achieve them?

Duckworth suggests “a deep breath” before automatically reacting and then striving to “understand each other... to find the stories about each other so we can find where they are coming from.”

In her book, she articulates a higher ideal for America, one that is perhaps more aspirational than reality now, as evidenced by the “blatantly racist” ads that appeared against her in her first run for congress. “As Americans,” she writes,” we take care of each other.”

Duckworth’s own story has become more prominent since she was a serious contender to be Joe Biden’s vice president. Recently, she has appeared frequently in the news, insisting that the Biden administration appoint more Asian Americans to high-level positions.

Apparently the Biden administration is listening. “The White House has been fantastic to me,” she said.

What’s next on Duckworth’s career track?

Duckworth says she “would love” to be an ambassador, a dream since she was 8 years old.

“I realized from a young age what a privilege it was to be an American,” she writes, and that “no matter how grievous the wound, healing is always possible, and that the lowest moments can lead to the greatest heights.”

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