In the early morning hours of June 14 – in the middle of a picturesque American backdrop – a gunman targeted Members of Congress and opened fire on a baseball field in Virginia where they were practicing for their annual charity baseball game.
The shooting in Virginia was the second time in less than a decade that a member of the U.S. House of Representatives was shot. In this case, it was Congressman Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip, who remains in critical condition. Congressman Scalise, Members of the House and Senate and their staffers were partaking in America’s pastime and two brave Capitol Police Officers were doing their job when they were attacked. In 2011, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was simply doing her job as well, holding a meet and greet outside of an Arizona supermarket, when she was shot in the head.
It has been nearly 20 years since Majority Whip Tom DeLay came face to face with a gunman in the United States Capitol when the attacker proceeded to enter his office. Like my friend Steve, Tom had Capitol Police Officers nearby who acted with complete disregard for their own safety and bravely protected everyone there. Tragically, Officers Jacob Chestnut and John Michael Gibson were shot and killed that day.
I want to reiterate Speaker Ryan’s statement, an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. In the midst of partisan tension, harsh language and political criticism, the violence we experienced made us stop, slow down, and remember that no matter what side of the aisle we are on or what policies we agree or disagree with, we are all Americans working every day to serve those we call friends and neighbors back home. Like President Trump said, "We may have our differences but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because above all they love our country. We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans."
I also want to express my deep gratitude for the heroic actions of the Capitol Police Officers. Had they not been there, the fate of dozens of my colleagues could have been much worse. Once again, the thin blue line held in the face of unspeakable violence.
I ask you to join me in praying for everyone who was involved in the attack to recover quickly and completely. Pray for their families as well who are holding vigil at hospital bedsides. And finally, pray for our nation to heal. As we move forward from this horrific event, we must not forget that what makes America great is that we are all different. We cannot allow those differences to bring anger and violence to our doorstep and threaten our democracy.