By H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY
By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
CHARLOTTE -- When Gabrielle Giffords walked slowly onto the stage at the Democratic convention tonight, thousands of delegates stood and cheered at the sight.
And when the former Arizona congresswoman was done leading them in the Pledge of Allegiance, people were wiping away tears and chanting "Gab-by! Gab-by!"
Giffords was shot in the head at point-blank range in January 2011, as she met with her constituents at a Tucson-area grocery store. The rampage left six people dead and another 12 wounded. The shooting captivated the nation, sparking a debate about the need for civility in politics.
With close friend Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz at her side, Giffords walked onto the stage at the Time Warner Cable Arena with a slight limp. Her smile was wide and bright, and Giffords recited the pledge clearly.
Giffords' battle to recover from her wounds has seemed to transcend politics. After the pledge, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., tweeted:
"Gabby Giffords leading the Pledge of Allegiance is an inspiration to all Americans."
Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, recently announced the formation of a political action committee, Gabby PAC, to help elect Democrats. She had been undergoing physical and speech therapy in Houston, where Kelly was based as a NASA astronaut, but moved back home to Arizona last month.