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US Election 2012

Don't waste energy thinking about things that don't matter : Tammy

Photo : Tammyduckworth.com

Photo : Tammyduckworth.com

Tammy Duckworth on Wednesday became the first Thai-American woman elected to US Congress after beating freshman Republican Joe Walsh in Illinois' 8th congressional district.

With 41 per cent of the votes counted, Duckworth led Walsh 56.3 per cent to 43.7 per cent. She 44-year-old Democrat was born to a Thai mother and American father. She can speak Thai.

But what is more remarkable is her exceptional life. Duckworth almost lost her life during an attack in Iraq in 2004 while serving as commander of a Blackhawk Helicopter Company.

With more than 200 combat hours as a Blackhawk pilot, Duckworth lost both of her legs on November 12, 2004, when the Black Hawk she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents. Following her battlefield injuries, Duckworth received a Purple Heart, an Air Medal and Army Commendation Medal in December 2004.

Duckworth was born on March 12, 1968, in Bangkok and is the daughter of Frank L Duckworth, a marine who served in World War II and the Vietnam War and Lamai Sompornpairin. Her family moved around Southeast Asia when she was young due to her father’s work with the United Nations. She graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, and received a Master of Arts in international affairs from George Washington University.

The injury changed her life. Duckworth ran for a seat in the US Congress in 2006 but narrowly lost.

She visited Thailand in 2007 as a good will ambassador, her first trip to the country in 20 years.

During an interview with The Nation in June 2007. Duckworth said she told herself not to dwell on negative thoughts because she did not want to throw away the life that had been saved by her comrades. "Don't waste your energy thinking about things that don't matter," she said.

She also said that the US was not much more advanced than Thailand in regards to disabled people, as the US had only passed a law to have facilities for disabled persons a decade ago. She noted that Thailand still had opportunities to improve the lives of the disabled and engage them as active members of society and urged the physically challenged to fight for their rights.

She also noted that Thai people were lucky to have His Majesty the King, who she described as very kind and loving.


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