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Public Statements

Anniversary Of The Deaths Of Officer Jacob Joseph Chestnut And Detective John Michael Gibson

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, in our democratic system, protection and preservation of the United States of America, her institutions, and her citizens is based solely on the voluntary risks taken and sacrifices made by ordinary Americans.

Woven into the fabric of this great Nation and within all Americans is the notion that freedom is not free. Time and time again our citizens, members of our Armed Forces, and law enforcement officials, when called upon, have answered the call to defend that freedom.

Twelve years ago this past Saturday, two courageous Capitol police officers answered the call and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and their fellow countrymen. Today, I wish to honor the sacrifice of Officer Jacob Joseph Chestnut and Detective John Michael Gibson. An American President once noted:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

People like Officer Chestnut and Detective Gibson defended and even gave their lives in the service of this truth that is so vital to our society. That is why we remember them and that is why we will continue to tell their story, so those who follow will never forget the cost of freedom.

Both men served for 18 years on the Capitol police force. Officer Chestnut--or J.J. to his friends--was 58 years old and a father of five. He was a 20-year veteran of the Air Force, serving in Vietnam and Taiwan.

Detective Gibson was 42 years old and a father of three. A Massachusetts native, friends recall his intense love for his Boston sports teams--the Bruins, the Red Sox, and UMass basketball. A friend recalled that just a few days before the shooting, John told him he had never had to draw his weapon on the job. Yet, despite being mortally wounded on the day he died, John did not hesitate to return fire.

This is not only a tribute to Detective Gibson's commitment, it is a testament to the outstanding training and preparation the officers of the Capitol police force receive to handle even the toughest situations. Officer Chestnut and Detective Gibson were the first Capitol police officers to die in the line of duty.

In honor of their sacrifice, a plaque has been placed in the Capitol, and their names have been etched upon the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, as well as the headquarters of the U.S. Capitol Police--fitting tributes to honor these good and courageous men.

My friend the majority leader, a former Capitol police officer himself, knows all too well the honor as well as the risks associated with the job. So as we honor Officer Chestnut and Detective Gibson today, we also honor all Capitol police who put their lives on the line every single day to protect us and this institution.

To all members of the Capitol police, we thank you for your service and your sacrifice. We are grateful for the heroic sacrifice of these two men. On this day of remembrance, we remember their families as well. May God continue to look after them, and may God continue to protect all those, like Officer Chestnut and Detective Gibson, whose daily work is to protect the rest of us from harm.

Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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