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Giffords to appear at Jan. 8 vigil

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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Giffords to appear at Jan. 8 vigil

  • Giffords with her mother, Gloria, in a photo released in June by her office.
    P.K. Weis/SouthwestPhotoBank.comGiffords with her mother, Gloria, in a photo released in June by her office.

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will appear at a vigil Sunday evening commemorating the Jan. 8 shootings, her spokesman confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

The candlelight vigil is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on the University of Arizona mall.

"Congresswoman Giffords wanted to be back in Tucson for this very emotional weekend," said Pia Carusone, the congresswoman's chief of staff, in a press release.

Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly will "participate in the event," said Giffords' spokesman Mark Kimble, who provided few details in the release.

Giffords will not give interviews while in Tucson, he said.

While the extent of Giffords' participation is still closely held, a rumor in political circles said she may lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the event.

Mark Kelly was previously announced as a speaker at the vigil, and indicated at a book reading last month that Giffords would return for the first anniversary of the shooting.

Also scheduled to speak at the vigil are Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild; University of Arizona Medical Center trauma surgeon Peter Rhee, who treated Giffords; her rabbi, Stephanie Aaron; and Ron Barber, one of Giffords' aides who was also wounded in the attack.

The Tucson Symphony Orchestra will perform, as will one of the congresswoman's favorite local bands, Calexico, Kimble said.

Although the event has been billed as a candlelight vigil, those attending are asked to not bring candles, he said. "Glow sticks will be provided to all those in attendance," he said.

This will be the fourth time Giffords has returned home to Tucson. She last visited during Thanksgiving when she and Kelly served a holiday dinner to airmen at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

She also returned for Father's Day and Labor Day weekends.

Since shortly after the shooting, Giffords has been undergoing therapy in Houston, where her husband was based while serving as an astronaut.

In that time, she has made few trips outside of Texas. In addition to her trips home, she traveled to Florida twice for the launch of the space shuttle and twice to Washington, D.C.,: once to vote on the debt bill and again for Kelly's retirement ceremony. She also flew to North Carolina for a short stint of rehabilitation.

While the weekend is filled with many events remembering the shooting, it's unknown if Giffords will attend any of the others.

Giffords "felt it was important to be in her hometown with her family, staff members and a few close friends" on the anniversary of the shooting, Carusone said.

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