Wounded Congresswoman Gets Standing Ovation at Obama Speech

Posted January 25th, 2012 at 3:00 am (UTC-5)
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Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously wounded in a shooting incident in her home state of Arizona last year, got a standing ovation when she entered the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday to attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

The 41-year-old Democratic congresswoman is set to step down from her post on Wednesday to concentrate on her recovery from the gunshot wound to the head that has left her with slurred speech and limited movement after a year of rehabilitation.

Giffords nearly died in the January 8, 2011 attack, which occurred outside a grocery store where she was meeting with constituents. Giffords missed last year's State of the Union address while in the hospital after the shooting.

This year, President Obama greeted her in the chamber with a big hug. She waved to her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, and first lady Michelle Obama in the gallery and took a front-row seat on the House floor.

Giffords has drawn support from both sides of the aisle as she struggled to regain her health. In her seat Tuesday evening, she was flanked by two other lawmakers from Arizona, one a Democrat and the other a Republican.

On Sunday Giffords announced she will resign from Congress. In a video statement posted on the Internet, Giffords said she is getting better, but that work remains for her recovery. She said she is stepping down for the good of the state she represents.

Giffords said she plans to return to work for the state and the country again.

President Obama has said Giffords' “cheerful presence” will be missed. He has said he is confident she will return to the public sphere eventually.

Six people were killed in the same attack, including a federal judge, a member of Giffords' staff and a nine-year-old girl. A dozen other people were wounded.

The man charged in the shooting, Jared Loughner, has pleaded not guilty. It has been reported that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and he has been in jail since the crime.