Rep. Gabrielle Giffords led a crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, her words ringing out across a cold Tucson night in a rare public appearance Sunday evening at a candlelight vigil one year after surviving a deadly shooting that killed six.
The Democratic congresswoman stepped onstage to cheers from the crowd. Ron Barber, a staffer who was wounded in a deadly shooting one year ago, invited her to lead the audience in the pledge.
The crowd chanted: “Gabby, Gabby.”
She limped to the podium, and husband Mark Kelly helped lift her left hand over her heart. After a year in which she has struggled to speak, Giffords recited the pledge with the audience, head held high and a smile on her face as she punched each word.
The remembrance at the University of Arizona capped off a day of events, including a church service that drew hundreds in the afternoon and a citywide bell-ringing at 10:11 a.m., the exact time a gunman started shooting at a Safeway political event.
With hugs and tears, southern Arizonans remembered the dead, the shattered lives and those who acted heroically after a gunman opened fire at an outdoor meet-and-greet that severely wounded Giffords and killed six.