Last night, President Obama announced that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was the apparent target of an assassination attempt, had opened her eyes for the first time since being shot in the head on Saturday. And it turns out that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was holding her hand at the time. Gillibrand, who flew to Tucson with Obama and other Congressional members on Air Force One, was in Giffords' hospital room with Giffords' husband and family, as well as House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Debbie Waserman Schultz, and the junior Senator from New York said, "It was like witnessing a miracle."
Gillibrand explained, "Debbie and I were telling her how much she was inspiring the nation with her courage, her strength, and we were talking about the things we wanted to do as soon as she was better. I said, 'We'll have another night out for beer and pizza with your husband.' And Debbie started talking to her about their house in New Hampshire, just talking about all the things we wanted to do, and all of a sudden she started to struggle to open her eyes. So [Giffords' husband astronaut] Mark [Kelly] saw that and said, 'Open your eyes, Gabby, open your eyes.' She kept struggling and struggling and Mark just kept encouraging her. And within a moment she literally opened her eyes."
Gillibrand added that Giffords was able to keep her eyes open for between 30 and 60 seconds, and when Kelly asked her to give her the thumbs up if she saw him, "Not only did she give the thumbs up, she literally raised her entire hand."