Gabrielle Giffords honors husband Mark Kelly at White House ceremony

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords listens as her husband, Captain Mark Kelly speaks at his retirement ceremony with Vice President Joe Biden in the Secretary of War Suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 6, 2011.
Official White House Photo by David Lienemann
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., returned to Washington on Thursday for a retirement ceremony honoring her husband, Mark Kelly, at the White House.

Vice President Joe Biden presided over the ceremony, during which Kelly, who served as a Navy captain and astronaut, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Legion of Merit.

Giffords was met with a standing ovation as she entered the Secretary of War suite at the Eisenhower Executive Building next to the White House.

Captain Mark Kelly hugs his wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after receiving the Legion of Merit from Vice President Joe Biden.
Official White House Photo by David Lienemann
The Arizona congresswoman did not deliver official remarks at the ceremony, nor did she have any "extended conversations" with those present, the Associated Press reports.

She did, however, assist the vice president in pinning her husband with the Distinguished Flying Cross.

"Gabby did it better than I did," said Biden, after struggling to affix the pin in the dim lighting.

Biden praised Giffords for being an "inspiration to thousands."

"It's not every day you encounter examples of sheer courage and selflessness and dedication like you see with this couple," he said. "You've been an inspiration, an inspiration to thousands of people who suffer from traumatic head injuries."

"People look at you and say, "I can make it. I can do this,'" he added.

In a statement after the ceremony House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who attended the event, said Giffords "looked great."

"I was very impressed with the strength of her presence how she walked in and how she pinned- he received two very important decorations- and she pinned one of them on him. She looked great, she sounded great and it was quite thrilling," she said.

The trip is only Giffords' second to Washington since January, when she was severely injured in a gunfire attack in Tucson, Arizona that killed six people and wounded fourteen.

In August, the congresswoman - who has for the past several months been recovering in Houston, Tex. - made a surprise return to Congress to vote in favor of an agreement to raise the debt limit.

Giffords was scheduled to head back to Houston shortly following the ceremony.

Captain Mark Kelly speaks at his retirement ceremony with Vice President Joe Biden in the Secretary of War Suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 6, 2011.
Official White House Photo by David Lienemann

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