Yesterday morning, sheer horror struck the nation as Republican congressional members were attacked in Virginia by a lone assailant, which the FBI has since confirmed was Illinois resident James T. Hodgkinson.
At the time of the shooting, the congressional members on the scene were at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia practicing for a charity baseball game in which Republicans and Democrats are set to faceoff in later today.
Five innocent people, House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Capitol Police special agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner, Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika, and congressional staffer Zach Barth, were all struck during the shooting.
In a media update late last evening, MedStar Washington Hospital Center said that Congressman Scalise’s condition is critical after sustaining a single gunshot to his hip. The statement claimed, “The bullet traveled across his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs, and causing severe bleeding.” Matt Mika also remains in critical condition, while Barth and both members of the Capitol Police were either released or said to be in good condition.
On a day like yesterday, under extreme and tense circumstances, it is easy to point to what is wrong with America and highlight the evil acts and person behind such an unbearable event. Yet through the evil surrounding yesterday’s attack, that which is right with America has emerged in multiple facets. Good always trumps evil. And the good is what we should all choose to reflect on, be thankful for, and rejoice in.
As told by multiple people on the scene yesterday, the two Capitol Police officers who were at the baseball field as a part of Representative Scalise’s security detail quickly became heroes to all who were under attack. These two special agents risked their lives to save many others as they continued to return fire in an attempt to halt the gunman – even after sustaining injuries themselves. As Representative Roger Williams–a former TCU baseball player turned congressman from Texas–put it, “we saw courage in the face of death.” In the midst of immense trial, these heroes selflessly ran towards the gunfire in an attempt to save others, and they succeeded.
In the hours after the shooting, many in Washington and across the country have called for civil discourse, humanity, and unity. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan took to the House floor following the shooting to deliver the most eloquent speech of the day saying, “And we are united. We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish.” To a standing ovation, Ryan proclaimed, “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” Speaker Ryan went on to applaud those who serve and protect Congress every single day saying, “I know this house wants to say unequivocally that we are as ever awed by the tremendous bravery of the Capitol Police.”
Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA), standing beside the GOP congressional baseball team manager and Congressman from Texas, Joe Barton, spoke along similar lines of unity.
“Joe and I have been reflecting a lot lately just on how we can still maintain our principles and our legislative agendas, but we could do it in a more civil way.” Doyle declared, “You know, it shouldn’t take an incident like this to bring us together.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 14, 2017
I couldn’t agree more with Speaker Ryan and Representative Doyle. It is a beautiful thing to see Americans of all ideologies and walks of life coming together and embracing each other, but it is unfortunate that it takes a large scale tragic event for this to happen.
On a day like yesterday, we should all call that someone we are close to whom we disagree with politically and tell them we love them. But this mindset shouldn’t stop at the end of the day. Let us use the overwhelming bonding, mutual support, and unity that we have seen swell in the past 24 hours inspire and convict us to act in such a way in the weeks, months and years ahead. We are all Americans. We are all in this together. Only together will we rise up, promote the common good, and make significant progress.