Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today at the memorial service in honor of the Capitol Policemen who were shot and killed 10 years ago today:
“Some may know that when I attended George Washington Law School many years ago, I worked full time on the swing – or night shift – as a Capitol Police Officer. My service as a Capitol Policeman was not one where I did anything courageous or notable. But even then, before the heightened awareness to threat we have today, we police officers knew if the call came to sacrifice to protect this United States Capitol, our jobs meant answering the call.
“Ten years ago, two officers did just that. Special Agent John Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut were stationed near the East entrance on the House side, mere steps from where we stand. When a gunman attempted to bypass metal detectors, Officer Chestnut answered the call of duty and blocked his path. The gunman shot Officer Chestnut point blank.
“Hearing shots, Special Agent Gibson also answered the call of duty. He warned nearby staffers to seek cover and confronted the attacker. They exchanged fire.
“Despite valiant efforts to keep both heroes alive, including efforts by my predecessor, Senator Frist, Special Agent Gibson and Officer Chestnut died from their wounds.
“I knew Agent Gibson. During a Congressional retreat to Virginia, he came to care for my wife when she became ill during the night. I remember how he ran to her side. I will never forget how kind and gentle he was with her.
“I knew Officer Chestnut only by face and in shared greetings whenever we passed each other. But I do know he was a veteran of the Vietnam war, had given 18 years of service to the Capitol Police, and heartbreakingly, was just months away from a hard-earned retirement.
“We are honored to have Agent Gibson’s wife, Lyn, and their children, Kristen, Jack and Danny, Officer Chestnut’s wife, Wen-Ling, and their children, Will and Karen, and their many cherished friends and family. We hope that it has been some comfort to you – the ones they loved most – to know that in the 10 years since that terrible day, some measure of your burden has come to rest upon all of our shoulders.
“So today we plant a tree in the name and memory of John Gibson and Jacob Chestnut. The tree is small now, but every day it will grow taller, stronger and broader. Its roots will grasp ever deeper for the American soil that lies below, the American soil that both men defended so heroically.
“As this tree takes root and grows and flourishes, it will remind us always of these two brave men. And though it will shed its leaves in the Fall, it will always bloom when Spring arrives again.”