Gabrielle Giffords appears at vigil, leads Pledge of Allegiance
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) attended a vigil Sunday night to honor those killed and wounded -- herself included -- in the Tucson shooting a year ago.
Giffords was nearly killed in the attack, and her public appearances have been rare since then. But wearing a red shawl and holding the hand of her husband, former astronaut Mark E. Kelly, she ventured on stage at the University of Arizona. There, she led the crowd of about 1,000 in the Pledge of Allegiance, giving extra emphasis to the conclusion, “with liberty and justice for all.”
The crowd began cheering as soon as Giffords was seen coming from backstage and continued as she walked up the stairs. Giffords spoke the words of the pledge with Ron Barber, the three-term congresswoman’s district director, who was among those wounded in the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting.
Barber, who was shot twice and seriously wounded, served as the master of ceremonies for the event.
Giffords has been undergoing physical and speech rehabilitation in Houston, and has kept largely out of the public eye. But she has been seen walking, and she went to Washington last year to cast a key vote. She also gave ABC’s Diane Sawyer an interview in May.
Many people have raised questions about the long-term effects of her injury -- she was shot in the head -- and about her political plans. She has several months before she must announce whether she will seek a fourth term.
The rampage killed six people and left 13, including Giffords, wounded. A gunman opened fire in a supermarket parking lot as Giffords was on hand to meet constituents.
The remembrance at the University of Arizona was the final event in a weekend of memorials. Sunday’s ceremonies began with the ringing of bells at 10:11 a.m., when the shooting took place.
The suspected gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, is in custody.
-- Michael Muskal
Photo: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords leads the Pledge of Allegiance during a vigil Sunday night at the University of Arizona. Credit: Jonathan Gibby / Getty Images