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Public Statements

Supporting America's Glorious Fabric

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, from America's earliest days, bravery has been essential. A group of courageous farmers were the first to stand against the British. The Declaration of Independence was a death warrant for anyone who signed it. The Constitutional Convention took place in a shuttered room. The Founders were brave, and they knew bravery would be needed to maintain what they had built. As Washington wrote when the veterans of 1776 began to pass away:

Thus some of the pillars of the revolution fall. May our country never want props to support the glorious fabric.

We remember today two men who supported the glorious fabric of our country. Jacob Joseph Chestnut and John Gibson gave their lives on a Friday afternoon while standing sentry at the gates of this great citadel of liberty. The Chambers had fallen silent for the week, staffers were celebrating the passage of a law, tourists were studying old plaques, and the President was getting ready for a weekend trip to his camp when a madman pierced the calm routine of daily life in Washington, and a brave grandfather and young father stood strong against him.

Their heroism was duplicated by the Senator-surgeon who tried to keep the killer and his victims alive, by the British tourist who rushed to one of the victims' side to hear his last words, by the horde of officers who rushed the gunman. When the flags fell, thousands of Americans called the Capitol to grieve. Thousands more showed up to mourn the fallen officers and to honor the ideals they died for. An act of savagery had roused a nation to mercy and compassion. It was an instinct we would see again on an even darker day 3 years later.

We are grateful for the lives of these good men and for their sacrifice. They were not sunshine patriots. They were brave Americans who stood their ground, as Americans so often do, to ensure that the ceremony of freedom would go on. It does. It will. And they will not be forgotten.

I yield the floor.

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