She sounded strong. She sounded ... mostly recovered. Gabby Giffords led the Democratic National Convention in the pledge of allegiance — and, for the crowd, what a moment it was.
To deafening cheers, the former congresswoman walked tentatively onto the stage 1½ years after being shot in the head in an attack in her district in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six and injured 13. On Thursday night, Democrats in the arena grinned, and some wept openly, as Giffords summoned a clear and emphatic voice: "I pledge allegiance ..."
Giffords clasped her hands together and stumbled slightly only once — on the word "indivisible" — before finishing with a flourish.
It was hard to imagine this moment if you were watching the news coverage in January 2011, when a gunman opened fire at a supermarket in Tucson while Giffords was holding an event for her constituents. It was hard to imagine this moment when the first photos of her after the shooting emerged, or when Americans first heard her stilted voice as she battled back from her injuries.
"Gabby! Gabby!" the crowd shouted. After reciting the pledge, Giffords walked off much as she had entered — ramrod straight but tentative, limping slightly, smiling broadly. As she moved offstage she turned, blowing kisses to the crowd. And then Gabrielle Giffords, former congresswoman, was gone.