LISTEN NOW! (Or WATCH FULL PROGRAM!) Can you imagine being on a baseball diamond, practicing for a fundraiser, and then surprised with the sounds of gunfire; only to find out that these sounds were from the rounds aimed at YOU? This is what happened to Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise when he was practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game earlier this year. An armed gunman approached the field with a list of Republicans that he had intended to kill. Moments later, Congressman Scalise was shot in the hip while those around him ran to his aide. As soon as the gunman opened fire with his high-powered rifle, Congressman Scalise’s security detail closed in on him with their handguns. United States Capitol Police Officers, Crystal Griner and David Bailey took the shooter down moments after the gunshots began.
Now, a little more than 90 days later, Congressman Steve Scalise has endured an arduous journey of recovery and managed to return to work. With every seat empty, a standing ovation ensues with roars and cheers as Congressman Steve Scalise enters the Congressional floor. After nearly three minutes of continual applause, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaks. “The chair wishes to mark the return to the chamber of our dear friend and colleague from Louisiana, Mr. Steve Scalise.” An eruption of applause again fills the chamber. The excitement is electric. No one remains sitting. Again, Paul Ryan speaks to the enthusiastic crowd. “Our prayers have been answered. His bravery and his family’s strength has been such an inspiration to this house and to the people it serves. America is grateful for this moment.” With chuckles and heartfelt joy, Speaker Ryan asks, “The chair now proudly asks for what purpose does the gentleman from Louisiana seek recognition?” As Congressman Scalise responds, “to speak out of order Mr. Speaker”, applause erupts once again.
The joy in Congressman Scalise’s voice is palpable as he shares these uplifting words. ‘Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You have no idea how great this feels to be back here at work in the people’s house. As you can imagine these last 3 ½ months have been pretty challenging times for me and my family.’ Congressman Scalise expresses his deep thanks and how he has been able to endure. ’If you look at the outpouring of love, of warmth, of prayer…Jennifer and I have been overwhelmed with all of that outpouring. And it’s given us the strength to get through all of this, and to get to this point today. And it starts with God.’
Congressman Scalise recalls the first moments after being shot and that he immediately began to pray. “I will tell you, it gave me an unbelievable sense of calm knowing at that point it was in God’s hands.” He continues to express how God answered each of these prayers. “He really did deliver for me and my family, and it just gives you that renewed faith and understanding that the power of prayer is something that you just cannot underestimate.” The Congressman quickly turns the attention to giving thanks and he points to the United States Capitol Police. He brings special attention to Crystal Griner and David Bailey. “When I was laying on the ground, one of the things I prayed for is that David and Crystal would be successful in carrying out their duties…not long after the first couple of shots were fired, I could hear a different caliber of weapon. And that told me that they had immediately engaged the shooter.”
He also points to his many colleagues who responded to him on the baseball field and rendered aide. “We happened to have Brad Windstrom on the field that day, and he was one of the first to come to my side. As you know, Brad is not only a doctor, but he’s a decorated Army Ranger who served in combat. One of his roles and missions was to take care of people that were wounded before they went off on the helicopter…” Looking at this scenario, Congressman Scalise understands who ultimately authored the details. “Who would have thought that God would have put Brad out there on that field with me, because the tourniquet he applied, many will tell you, saved my life so that I could actually make it to the hospital in time, with all the blood loss.
It is beyond encouraging to see the unity of parties respond in this time of crisis. ” Both, Republican and Democrat reached out in ways that I can’t express the gratitude in how much it means to me, to Jennifer, and our whole family.” He continues to point out how this reality is often never seen by the public. “It really does show the warm side of Congress that very few people get to see.” This is so important. Don’t let politics divide you.
When you consider a life shaking event as this is, many would ask, ‘did this change him?’. As he continues to point out, “Yes, it changed me, but not in the ways you might think. It’s only strengthened my faith in God, and it’s really crystalized what shows up in the goodness of people. I got to see that goodness in people.” We must look at this event in the same way that Congressman Scalise remembers it playing out; not as a single act of evil, but the many demonstrations of love that were carried out by many others.
As the Congressman closes his inspirational words, he begins to share about one reality that he could never expected. The amount of world leaders that expressed their support in his recovery was absolutely astonishing to him. He tried to comprehend why so many from around the world would reach out to him, and he kept returning to one simple truth. “Sure, they cared about my wellbeing, but more than that. They saw this as an attack on all of us. They saw this as an attack on the institution of the United States Congress and our government.” He continues this understanding with these powerful words that remind all of us of the influence that America has. “What it really means is that there are people all around the world that want freedom, maybe that have freedom, but they know, the United States being strong is critical to the rest of the world having the opportunity for freedom.” What an awesome perspective to hold to and remember each day.
We thank God that He has healed this man and he has the ability to walk on his own. So many miracles took place that may never be acknowledged or known, but God knows. Our prayers continue for the Scalise family, as well as all of those who suffered injury on that day. And we also pray for all of our leaders to carry out their roles. See the full inspirational speech by Congressman Steve Scalise as he shares firsthand what he experienced, as well as the many heartfelt mentions of gratitude, and so much more. Also shared in this segment: Republicans, Democrats, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, Capitol Police Department, United States Congress, The Congressional Baseball Game, United States Capitol Police, Special Agent Crystal Griner, Special Agent David Bailey, assassination attempt, miracles, prayer, encouragement, and hope. Greg and John shared in this segment.
screen capture from youtube.com/RepSteveScalise