108th Congress (2003-2004)
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HONORING THE COURAGE AND SACRIFICE OF OFFICER J.J. CHESTNUT AND DETECTIVE JOHN GIBSON ON THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THEIR DEATHS -- (Senate - July 24, 2003)
[Page: S9857] GPO's PDF
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the hour of 3:40 p.m. having arrived, the Senate will observe a moment of silence in honor of Capitol Police Officers Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson.
(Moment of Silence.)
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, 5 years ago on this day, Officers J.J. Chestnut and John Gibson were killed in the line of duty defending the United States Capitol.
At 3:40 p.m. on Friday afternoon, July 24th, 1998, a deranged gunman burst through what is now called the Memorial Door and shot Officer Chestnut in the head. The gunman then moved to the first floor where he attempted to enter the majority whip's office. There, he met Officer Gibson who blocked the intruder and opened fire. A gun battle ensued and Officer Gibson was fatally shot.
Officers Chestnut and Gibson lost their lives that day for us, for this Capitol, for the United States of America.
Officer Chestnut, a father of five, was only months away from retirement. His sister-in-law said that J.J. was ``the most wonderful man you would ever meet . . . He just wanted to enjoy his garden and enjoy his children.'' A Vietnam vet, Officer Chestnut spent 20 years in the Air Force before serving 18 years as a Capitol Police Officer. He was recognized by all of his colleagues as a dedicated, kind, and good man.
John Gibson, also an 18-year veteran on the Capitol force, was a father of three. He was described by friends as generous and God-fearing. Only a few days before the shooting, he told one of his colleagues that he had never had to use his weapon, but if he did, he would be focused, and concentrate on the task at hand. Little did he know how soon he would be tested, and how valiantly he would perform in our service, in the Nation's service.
Officers Chestnut and Gibson will always be remembered for their personal and professional integrity, their bravery, and their sacrifice. We honor them today with a brief moment of silence.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader.
Mr. DASCHLE. The poet Archibald MacLeish was an ambulance driver in World War I. Years later, in a poem about soldiers lost in battle, he wrote:
The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses.
Who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock strikes.
It is right, and it is important, that we stop every year at this moment to remember in silence the courage and sacrifice of Officer J.J. Chestnut and Detective John Gibson.
But it is not only at this moment, on this day, that we remember these fallen heroes.
We remember Officer J.J. Chestnut and Detective John Gibson every time we pass the Memorial Door and see that bronze plaque that bears their likenesses.
We remember them whenever we see Capitol Police officers working double shifts to protect us.
We remembered them yesterday, when we heard the awful news about the shooting at New York City Hall.
Like the young soldiers in the poem, 5 years after that terrible Friday afternoon, J.J. Chestnut and John Gibson are still heard in this house--the people's House.
We hear them in the conversations, the questions and the laughter of the schoolchildren and scout troops and all the others who visit this Capitol.
Five years ago, we probably did not understand fully the risks the Capitol Police take every day when they put on their badges and come to work, but Officer Chestnut and Detective Gibson understood.
They knowingly risked their lives because they loved this building and what it represents, and they wanted others to be able to see their Government at work.
We are not as innocent now as we were then. September 11 and the anthrax attacks made us all more aware that there are those who want to see the people's House closed, even destroyed.
The fact that this Capitol remains open--that visitors can still walk these majestic halls and sit in these galleries--is a powerful symbol of America's commitment to democracy. It is a testimony to the skill and courage of the Capitol Police. And it is a daily, living tribute to Officer Chestnut and Detective Gibson.
Today is a sad day for the members of the Capitol family, but it is not just with sadness that we remember our two fallen heroes.
We also remember how much we liked and respected them. We remember how much J.J. Chestnut loved his garden, and how crazy John Gibson was about his Red Sox. We remember how proud they were of their work, and how deeply they both loved their families.
Our hearts, and our prayers, go out today to their brothers and sisters in arms, the members of the Capitol Police, to the many friends they left behind, and especially, to their widows and children and, in Officer Chestnut's case, his grandchildren.
We think of them often, as well. Their sacrifices, too, will never be forgotten.
Officer J.J. Chestnut and Detective John Gibson gave their lives to protect something that is sacred to all of us. In doing so, they surely saved the lives of countless others. They are heroes.
Five years later, we remain in awe of their courage and sacrifice. And we are grateful to them beyond words.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
Mr. STEVENS. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
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