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Harry R.
Democrat NV

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  • Remembering Officer Chestnut and Detective Gibson

    by Senator Harry Reid

    Posted on 2015-07-24

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    REID. Mr. President, there are a select few men and women who come to work every day with one primary job: to protect those of us who work in the United States Capitol and all who come here from all corners of our country to see the heart of our democracy.

    In 1998, two of those brave police officers gave their lives while protecting the Capitol. They were Special Agent John Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut.

    Mr. President, 16 years ago today, a man entered the House side of the Capitol Building with a gun and shot Officer Chestnut at point- blank range. Agent Gibson warned tourists and staff to take cover and then confronted the gunman. Although Agent Gibson was also shot, he prevented anyone else from being killed.

    Both officers died that day. They served a combined 36 years on the force protecting the Capitol.

    I knew Agent Gibson. Years before the shooting, my wife and I attended a Senate retreat in southern Virginia. My wife became ill. Agent Gibson ran to her side. I can still remember how he was sweating from running so fast to come to my wife's aid. I have fond memories of these officers.

    Agent Gibson, who was from Massachusetts, would race to the back of the sports section each morning to find the box score for his beloved Boston Red Sox. He was a generous neighbor and a loving father to his daughter and two sons.

    Officer Chestnut--everyone called him ``J.J.''--was a father of five who loved his job and loved his country. He served in the Air Force for 20 years and fought in Vietnam. At the time of the shooting, he was just weeks away from retiring.

    Gibson and Chestnut were laid in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, just steps from where they were murdered--a distinction Congress has conferred upon only a handful of Americans, including Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and our unknown soldiers. Jacob Chestnut was the first African-American ever to be so honored in our Capitol Rotunda.

    On this solemn anniversary, we pause to appreciate not just the bravery of two men who saved so many others but each and every Capitol Police officer who does his or her job so valiantly every single day of the year. On behalf of the entire United States Senate and everyone who works and visits here, thank you.


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