THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||July 28, 1998|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND THE VICE PRESIDENT
AT CONGRESSIONAL TRIBUTE HONORING
OFFICER JACOB J. CHESTNUT AND DETECTIVE JOHN M. GIBSON
United States Capitol Rotunda
3:30 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Today we honor two watchmen who guarded not justa building but an ideal, men who lived and labored not only to keep ourdemocracy free from harm but to keep it free and open to all our people.
So many times upon entering this building, I've been greeted byOfficer Chestnut standing proudly at his post. So many times as I havewalked through this Rotunda, I've been accompanied and guarded by DetectiveGibson and the protective detail on which he served. And I know I'm notalone among those who are here today in thinking how fragile is the safetyand security we take for granted, how thin the blue lines these brave menand women have drawn for us here in the Capitol and in every Americancommunity.
Soon two new names will be inscribed on the Law Enforcement Memorialless than a mile from here, but future generations will owe these men adebt outlasting any monument. As much as any soldier who ever landed on abeach, last week the gatekeepers of our Capitol became the front-lineguardians of our freedom. In defending each citizen's right to crossthrough that doorway in safety, they were defending democracy itself at itscore.
It is written in the Scripture that, "Whosoever will be great amongyou, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, lethim be your servant. Even as the son of man came not to be ministeredunto, but to minister, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
I believe it is men like John Gibson and J.J. Chestnut who are, in asense, ministers of our democracy and who by virtue of their extraordinarysacrifice are rightly honored here today as chief among us. They alsoremind us that for all those who suffer and die for righteousness' sake,theirs is the kingdom of God.
Let me say to the Gibson and the Chestnut families, we know nothingcan lift your loss. We do not forget that for you, each day forward thesacrifice will go on. But I hope there is comfort and I know there ispride and truth in the poet's words, "How sleep the brave who sink to restby all their country's wishes blessed."
God bless you, and God bless America.
THE PRESIDENT: To the Chestnut and Gibson families and my fellowAmericans, the Bible defines a good life thusly: "To love justice, to domercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."
Officer J.J. Chestnut and Detective John Gibson loved justice. Thestory of what they did here on Friday in the line of duty is already alegend. It is fitting that we gather here to honor these two Americanheroes, here in this hallowed chamber that has known so many heroes, inthis Capitol they gave their lives to defend.
And we thank their families for enduring the pain and extra burden ofjoining us here today. For they remind us that what makes our democracystrong is not only what Congress may enact or a president may achieve; evenmore, it is the countless individual citizens who live our ideals out everyday, the innumerable acts of heroism that go unnoticed, and, especially, itis the quiet courage and uncommon bravery of Americans like J.J. Chestnutand John Gibson and, indeed, every one of the 81 police officers who justthis year have given their lives to ensure our domestic tranquility.
John Gibson and J.J. Chestnut also did mercy in giving their lives tosave the lives of their fellow citizens. We honor them today, and in sodoing we honor also the hundreds of thousands of other officers, includingall of their comrades, who stand ready every day to do the same. They makeit seem so ordinary, so expected, asking for no awards or acknowledgement,that most of us do not always appreciate -- indeed, most of the time we donot even see -- their daily sacrifice. Until crisis reveals their courage,we do not see how truly special they are. And so they walked humbly.
To the Gibsons, to Lyn, Kristen, Jack, and Danny, to the Chestnuts,Wen Ling, Joseph, Janice, Janet, Karen, and William, to the parents, thebrothers, the siblings, the friends here -- you always knew that John andJ.J. were special. Now the whole world knows as well.
Today we mourn their loss and we celebrate their lives. Our words aresuch poor replacements for the joys of family and friends, the turning ofthe seasons, the rhythms of normal life that should rightfully have beentheirs. But we offer them to you from a grateful nation, profoundlygrateful that in doing their duty they saved lives, they consecrated thishouse of freedom, and they fulfilled our Lord's definition of a good life.They loved justice. They did mercy. Now, and forever, they walk humblywith their God.