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Article updated: 1/4/2013 7:59 AM

Kirk returns to Capitol after stroke: 'Let's go to work'

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Sen. Mark Kirk, second from left, climbs the Capitol steps accompanied by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senate Majority whip Richard Durbin of Illinois, right. Vice President Joe Biden watches, at left. Kirk said he often visualized climbing the 45 steps as a source of inspiration during his months of physical therapy after a major stroke last year.

Associated Press

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Sen. Mark Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, waves as he walks up the Capitol steps to mark his return to Congress. Members of Congress line the steps and Kirk is accompanied by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, to his right, and Vice President Joe Biden, on his left.

Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, right, helped by Senate Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper Terrance Gainer, walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., before climbing the steps to the Senate. Applauding in the foreground, from left, are Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Vice President Joe Biden.

Associated Press

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky gives a thumbs-up as Sen. Mark Kirk, of Highland Park, second from right, walks up the steps to the Senate door of the Capitol building. Kirk is accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Sen. Joe Manchin.

Associated Press

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One. Two. Three. U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk could be seen methodically counting to himself as he made his way up the U.S. Capitol steps for the first time since he suffered a massive stroke nearly a year ago. In roughly 10 minutes, he had climbed all 45 steps -- an emotional and triumphant return to the upper chamber. "Let's go to work, you guys!" Kirk said.
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    • Sen. Mark Kirk, second from left, climbs the Capitol steps accompanied by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senate Majority whip Richard Durbin of Illinois, right. Vice President Joe Biden watches, at left. Kirk said he often visualized climbing the 45 steps as a source of inspiration during his months of physical therapy after a major stroke last year.
    •  Sen. Mark Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, waves as he walks up the Capitol steps to mark his return to Congress. Members of Congress line the steps and Kirk is accompanied by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, to his right, and Vice President Joe Biden, on his left.
    •  U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, right, helped by Senate Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper Terrance Gainer, walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., before climbing the steps to the Senate. Applauding in the foreground, from left, are Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Vice President Joe Biden.
    •  Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky gives a thumbs-up as Sen. Mark Kirk, of Highland Park, second from right, walks up the steps to the Senate door of the Capitol building. Kirk is accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Sen. Joe Manchin.
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