Hello, I’m Jeff Flake, and I represent the people of Arizona’s sixth Congressional District.
Last week’s horrific attack in Tucson is a stark reminder of the senseless brutality of which some are capable; the selfless bravery with which true heroes respond; and the enduring need for leaders who will uphold their oaths and listen to their constituents.
My heart goes out to the family of my friend and colleague, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and to all those impacted by this heinous act.
Among the lost are a federal judge … a young girl, born on September 11th … a Congressional staffer …
Many others were injured. And the lives of many are forever changed.
These violent acts have no place in our society. And we should honor those who stood up in defiance, for it was from the shadows of this evil that we saw true heroism emerge.
When shots began to fire, Daniel Hernandez — a young man who joined Gabby’s staff as an intern just days before the incident — rushed into harm’s way. As he checked the pulses of the wounded he noticed Gabby on the ground, injured. He ran to her aid, and amid the crisis, shielded and tended to her.
His bravery and level-headedness during the crisis meant the difference between life and death — literally. Doctors have said that the actions Daniel took may very well have saved Gabby Giffords.
‘Of course you’re afraid,’ he said, but ‘you kind of have to do what you can.’ ‘People needed help.’
Daniel’s story on its own would have been inspiring if not for the many heroes who deserve our praise as well. These include the men and women who helped disarm the attacker and hold him until law enforcement arrived. And of course, the talented medical personnel who have performed so admirably.
I last spoke with Gabby just days ago during our swearing-in ceremony on the House floor. In the past we’ve partnered on legislation making the House of Representatives more open and more accountable.
While we may not agree on everything, members of Congress are bound together by a sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution. As Speaker Boehner has said, an attack on one of us is an attack on all who serve — an attack on representative democracy itself.
Gabby’s assailant struck while she was engaged in the most fundamental duty of a lawmaker: listening to her constituents.
It’s part of what distinguished us from the tyrannies of old and it continues to separate us from the despotisms of today. The people are sovereign. The freedom and wisdom of the people determine our future — not the whims of dictators and certainly not the bullets of fanatics.
And so it is our duty to uphold our oath, to listen and to represent. We will not let this inhumane act cow us into doing otherwise.
Please continue to keep all of the victims of this horrific tragedy in your thoughts. Pray that the injured make a speedy recovery and that those whose lives we’ve lost have their reward in heaven.
Thank you for listening.