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President Barack Obama embraces Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., as members of Congress applaud her Tuesday before the State of the Union address.
Mark Kelly, retired astronaut husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, tweeted before President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech: “Thankful to be watching tonight's #SOTU address next to @MichelleObama. Gabby's attendance will be a proud moment for all of us.
Giffords, the Arizona Democrat who survived an assassination attempt one year ago, received sustained applause from her peers and hugs from many. Obama, too, embraced her as he made his way to the front.
"Gabby! Gabby!" some of them chanted.
Limping a little, Giffords beamed around the chamber and raised her left hand to wave. Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, approached with two bags of chocolate, which Giffords took, grinning.
She looked to the gallery to wave at Kelly. When First Lady Michelle Obama took her seat next to him, she waved, too.
Throughout the speech, Arizona Republican Rep. Jeff Flake, sitting at Giffords' side, repeatedly helped her stand as her fellow Democrats applauded Obama.
Giffords plans to resign her House seat Wednesday to focus on her recovery. But first, she wanted to attend the State of the Union she was forced to miss last year in the uncertain days after the JAn. 8, 2011, shooting.
She changed her twitter handle on Tuesday from "rep_giffords" to "GabbyGiffords".
Timely speech: 1 hour, 5 minutes
The president spoke for approximately 1 hour, 5 minutes on Tuesday night, according to NBC News.
That would make it nearly 4 minutes longer than Obama's 2011 State of the Union talk in 2011, according to The American Presidency Project at the University of California-Santa Barbara, which has calculated State of the Union speech lengths given since 1966.
The longest speech in recent memory was by President William Clinton, on Jan. 27, 2000, at 1:28:49, about 9,100, words, according to the project.
However, President Jimmy Carter submitted a written message considered the longest at 33,667 words in 1981.
5 justices present
Only five of the nine Supreme Court justices attended the State of the Union speech.
Missing, reported NBC News: Samuel Alito, ClarenceThomas, Antonin Scalia, Sonia Sotomayor.
The greeters at the Capitol were Paul Irving, House Sergeant at Arms and Secret Service veteran, in his first time announcing the president; Terrance Gainer, Senate Sergeant at Arms; and Stephen Ayers, Architect of the Capitol.
Bill Livingood, the longtime House sergeant-at-arms, retired late last year.
The sergeant-at-arms is the chief protocol and security officer of the House.
Sitting it out
The White House says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is sitting out President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
The administration typically picks one Cabinet member to stay away from the Capitol so the government can continue to function in case a catastrophe were to strike.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also is a no-show. She's in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum.