I recall often over the course of the campaign, supporters asking what inspired me to become a public servant. Well, my answer is pretty simple. I have always drawn my inspiration from my dad who taught me to look for the good in every person and to reach out to those in need, to listen and to help. Those principles guide my life today.
Being a public servant is hard work, as it should be, and that is another value my father instilled in me. It is my honor to wake up each morning and work for the people of East Tennessee. And while there may be dangers inherent to this job, by no means should they slow any of us down from doing the job voters sent us to do.
The tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the other innocent victims in Tucson was an act of a mentally deranged individual and his actions should not cause us, as some would argue, to run from a political system that encourages a spirited exchange of ideas.
In fact, Congresswoman Giffords should be an inspiration to us all. Her desire to reach out to her constituents, to listen to their ideas and to have a discussion with them — her “Congress on the Corner” — is a shining example of what makes our country so great and an example to the rest of the world. To a person, my colleagues have all talked about how much of a fighter and hard working servant she is. I have no doubt that she will persevere and will once again soon be leading the charge for her constituents.
Let us not cower in fear after these events; but instead, follow the lead of Congresswoman Giffords. Let’s come together, discuss ideas, work for the people and work to make America a better place. If we continue to do these things, the great ideas of our Founding Fathers will win the day during this sad time, and the First Amendment — which Congresswoman Giffords read on the House floor last Thursday — will win. If we choose to let fear take hold, then those who use violence as their answer will have won the day. Let us make sure that never happens.
I am truly humbled that I have been chosen by the 3rd Congressional District of Tennessee to represent you in Congress. I promise that I will follow the example of Congresswoman Giffords and work as hard as I can each day to ensure that your voice is heard in Washington.
Together, we can ensure that the ideals of our free society continue to shine brightly as an example for the darkest corners of this earth.