Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement this morning on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Yesterday, this city and our country experienced a terrible and terrifying tragedy.
“Stephen Johns went to work every day for the last six years at one of our nation’s most moving museums – a living memorial to one of our world’s most horrific atrocities.
“Standing guard yesterday at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Mr. Johns was killed while protecting thousands of other inside from the same fate. His death has shocked, upset and angered the Senate, our nation and all who detest such senseless bloodshed.
“Mr. Jones was murdered in a place built to memorialize humanity’s most unspeakable murders.
“He was a victim of violence and hatred in a place dedicated to teaching us the evils of violence and hatred.
“He was a target of intolerance in a place created for reflection on the consequences of intolerance.
“And his death reminds us we have much more work to do.
“Stephen Johns was just 39 years old. He had a wife and a son. He grew up in Temple Hills, Maryland, just a few miles south and east of here, and still lived in that community. Mr. Johns started working at the Holocaust Museum after spending a year in New Orleans in the aftermath Hurricane Katrina.
“Those who knew Mr. Johns called him ‘Big John’ and ‘a gentle giant.’ Those who knew him describe him as caring, polite, friendly and helpful.
“Even those who did not know him are deeply saddened by his loss and inspired by his heroism.
“In the spirit of the museum where every day he so bravely reported for duty, it is our duty to keep alive his memory.
“Today the Holocaust Museum is closed. Its flags fly at half staff. When it opens tomorrow, it will continue to serve as one of our nation’s most poignant reminders of the inexcusable racism, hatred, violence and cruelty that we must never stop working to erase from our world. When it opens tomorrow, and every day thereafter, Stephen Johns’ courage and courtesy will be missed.”