US Congresswoman Marks One Year Since Shooting

Posted January 9th, 2012 at 12:40 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords led a candlelight service in Tucson, Arizona to mark the one-year anniversary of a shooting spree that killed six people and left her seriously wounded.

Giffords led a large crowd at the University of Arizona in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, her voice emotional but strong. She was accompanied by her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, who helped lift her weakened right hand to her heart before the pledge.

Kelly also helped her light one of the many candles placed on the stage in memory of those killed and wounded in the attack. He later praised his wife and the survivors for showing “that alongside human frailty there is also strength.”

Among those killed were a federal judge, a member of Gifford's staff and a nine-year-old girl. Besides Giffords, a dozen other people were wounded.

Giffords was shot in the head and nearly died in the January 8, 2011 attack, which occurred outside a grocery store where she was holding a meeting with her constituents. The 41-year-old Democratic Party congresswoman has made a remarkable recovery amid a long and intensive rehabilitation process, enabling her to return to Congress last August to cast a vote on legislation raising the federal government's debt ceiling.

The White House said U.S. President Barack Obama offered his support to Giffords in a phone call Sunday and expressed his amazement at her courage and determination during her recuperation from the brain injury. The statement said the president called her an “inspiration to his family and all Americans.”

The man charged in the shooting, Jared Loughner, has pleaded not guilty. He has reportedly been diagnosed with schizophrenia and has been in jail since the crime.

Giffords has not yet said whether she will run for re-election in November.