Charlotte, North Carolina (CNN) - Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made an emotional return to the political stage Thursday night when she led the pledge of allegiance at the Democratic National Convention.
Giffords, who stepped down from Congress in January to focus on her recovery from a shooting that left her grievously wounded, walked out with good friend Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz by her side.
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Her appearance brought the capacity crowd at Time Warner Cable arena to their feet in an ovation that lasted more than a minute and spurred chants of "Gabby, Gabby!"
Many of those in the audience were visibly moved.
Giffords delivered the pledge in a clear strong voice, her left hand holding up her right hand – that side left weakened by the bullet wound to her brain – to her heart.
She left the stage blowing kisses to the crowd, again prompting another rousing ovation and chants of her name.
She was immediately greeted backstage by husband Mark Kelly, who gave her a hug and a kiss.
Kelly later told CNN that Giffords was "really pumped" to lead the pledge.
"She hasn't been around this kind of atmosphere for a long time," Kelly told "Erin Burnett OutFront," commenting on the energetic arena. "A lot of her friends are here. … (She was) really excited to do it."
Giffords was shot in January 2011 at a constituent meet-and-greet in Tucson, Arizona. Six people were killed in the attack by Jared Lee Loughner, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl. Giffords was one of 12 wounded. Loughner pleaded guilty this month to the shooting.
America's sweetheart, and just as beautiful as ever. Bullets can't stop her, and she'll probably jump tall buildings in a single bound one day, too. One more victory for hope in the eternal battle against fear.
God Bless you Gabby. You are a truly inspiring American
That smile of hers is so beautiful, warm, and genuine it almost hurts! That she is also married to such a loving true American Hero in Mark Kelly is also amazing! I am sorry conservatives here, there was nobody even close to this incredible lady at the Republican Convention. May the Lord himself continue to bless here and her family!!
So unbelievably inspirational! Glad to see that she's made such progress. Amazing.
Sad that anyone would make a negative comment about Gabby. Fortunately most of us witnessed a survivor of a horrible event and we were happy to see her. Count your blessings Frank.
Democrats champion the causes of the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disabled.
Christ championed the causes of the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disabled.
Who does the GOP champion? The wealthy bankers and Wall Streeters.
Didn't Christ throw the money-changers out of the temple?
The Quote of the Decade:
"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America 's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, "the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."
~ Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006