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Gabrielle Giffords Makes First Public Appearance At Space Center Houston

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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) made her first public appearance since being wounded in a tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona earlier this year in which numerous victims were hurt or had their lives taken, ABC News reports.

According to the outlet, Giffords attended a ceremony at Space Center Houston in Texas at which her husband astronaut Mark Kelly -- who recently announced his retirement from NASA, effective October 1 -- was awarded the Spaceflight Medal, which is given to shuttle members upon safely returning home from their missions.

ABC News reports:

Her hair was much shorter than in previously published photos. She was wearing glasses, a beige scarf, a light shirt, jeans and sneakers. She smiled and waved to the crowd.

Giffords and Kelly held hands for most of the event. She appeared to chat with people sitting around her, and laughed when the crew of STS-134, the Space Shuttle Endeavour's last mission, was introduced. Kelly commanded the mission.

The Arizona congresswoman herself reportedly received a standing ovation at the event.

In announcing his plans to retire last week, Kelly said that he plans to spend more time by his wife's side.

"As life takes unexpected turns we frequently come to a crossroads," he wrote in a message posted on his Facebook page. "I am at this point today. Gabrielle is working hard every day on her mission of recovery. I want to be by her side. Stepping aside from my work in the Navy and at NASA will allow me to be with her and with my two daughters. I love them all very much and there is no doubt that we will move forward together. After some time off, I will look at new opportunities and am hopeful that one day I will again serve our country."

The AP recently reported that Giffords and Kelly are working on a memoir together:

Kelly and Giffords are collaborating with author Jeffrey Zaslow, who worked on Randy Pausch's million-selling "The Last Lecture" and Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's "Highest Duty." Kelly praised Zaslow as a "good storyteller" and "the best writer" for the kind of book they wanted. Zaslow will interview friends, family members and colleagues of Kelly and Giffords.

"There are details of our personal lives together that I'd say I can count on one hand the people who know them. In some cases, it's just Gabby and I (who know the details)," said Kelly, who met Giffords in 2003 and married her in 2007. Before the shooting, they had maintained independent lives, Kelly based in Houston and Giffords in Tucson.

Giffords will focus on her recovery, but Kelly said that the book will be part of that process and that Giffords will provide details of what "she remembers after Jan. 8 and her story before that." While Kelly will be "the primary collaborator," he said Giffords will be a "big part of this." Giffords has been struggling to relearn how to speak and walk, and will be assisted by a 24-hour home health provider, according to the hospital.

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