When former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords took the stage at the Democratic National Convention, the convention hall exploded with cheers and applause.
Giffords' name was never listed on the convention schedule, and although rumors had surfaced about her appearance, it took some by surprise.
With the assistance of her close friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic Party Chairwoman, Giffords slowly walked across the stage and lead the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Although her speech was slurred at times, Giffords showed her courage and grit, reciting the Pledge with enthusiasm and a beaming smile . It brought tears to the eyes of many in the convention hall and led to a chant of "Gabby, Gabby" once the Pledge was over.
Gabby Giffords walks on stage at 2012 Democratic National Convention
ABC News reports Newark Mayor Cory Booker tweeted "Ok, now Gabby Giffords just made me cry. What a testimony to strength, resilience, perseverance and beauty!" USA Today quotes a tweet by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as saying "Gabby Giffords leading the Pledge of Allegiance is an inspiration to all Americans." MSNBC's Rachael Maddow was heard telling her producers not to switch the camera to her because she was crying.
According to Voice of America, convention attendees began chanting “fired up, ready to go” after Giffords left the stage.
Giffords has primarily kept out of the spotlight since leaving Congress in January after being shot in the head during a constituent event. She has spent the last 17 months in a Houston rehab facility before returning to Tucson on Aug.13th where she continues her therapy.