Photo by David Lienemann/The White House/AP

Trauma to triumph

2011 News of the Year | Rep. Gabrielle Giffords survives assassination attempt in Tucson

Issue: "2011 News of the Year," Dec. 31, 2011

In January Jared Lee Loughner attempted to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., opening fire at a Saturday morning gathering in the parking lot of a Tucson grocery store-killing six and injuring 13 others. Among the dead was Chief U.S. District Court Judge John Roll. The critically injured Giffords-shot in the head with what surgeons called "a devastating wound that few survive"-underwent grueling, breakthrough trauma surgery using techniques honed on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Months of rehabilitation restored some of Giffords' ability to walk and talk. And prompted a bright moment in an otherwise dismal year in Congress when Giffords-smiling and composed-slowly walked into the House chamber to cast her vote in support of a deal to raise the debt ceiling. Her appearance left thick-skinned politicians on both sides of the aisle wiping away tears. With her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly (embracing Giffords), who in May commanded the last mission of space shuttle Endeavor, she served Thanksgiving dinner in November to troops at a Tucson base. "You look strong," one soldier told her. "I feel strong," she replied.

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