WASHINGTON — The country’s attention was fixated on the nation’s capitol Thursday night — and it wasn’t for bills or bureaucracy, but for baseball.
A tragic 10-minute exchange of gunfire during an assassination attempt at the Republican practice session ahead of the Congressional Baseball Game was on the mind of every American in attendance.
The constant controversy of the second amendment, whether we have too many guns or too few, was brushed aside when Republicans and Democrats got on one knee at second base, the position Congressman Steve Scalise was supposed to be playing that day. The gunman struck him in the hip and he remains in critical condition in the hospital after two surgeries.
In that moment, the politics didn’t matter.
“We are, again a body of one,” said Representative Alma Adams. “We are all Americans. ”
“This is a game about freedom, there’s a lot of history here,” said Representative Ted Budd.
“This is a moment to collectively come together for the good of America,” said Representative Mark Walker. “It’s a healthy thing, it’s a therapeutic thing for us to be out here playing baseball. ”
Wearing his Aggie yellow, Congressman Walker trotted into Nationals Park ahead of the game, more than a day after he walked away from practice where shots rang in Alexandria Virginia.
“We’re glad our colleagues are alive, Steve Scalise, Matt Mika, these guys are still in our prayers,” Representative Budd said. “They’re not out of the woods yet, still in the hospital. ”
“He’s still with us here tonight even though he’s not playing but we’re sort of playing for him,” Representative Adams said.
For a Congress mired in partisanship, both sides of the isle reflecting on how a divided country moves forward as one.
“We need to love one another, embrace one another, support one another,” Representative Adams said.
“It’s gonna take genuine relationships, and that comes with intentionality,” Representative Walker said.
Not letting the fear of tragedy take away from the love of America’s past time.
“If you allow folks like that to deter you from doing things, good things like this, I think it sends a message and only encourages more behavior like that,” Representative Walker said.
“An atrocity like yesterday is not gonna stop what we do here today,” Representative Budd said.
And it couldn’t stop the overflow of support for the game, those wounded by the gunman, and the charitable spirit of Americans. The Congressional Baseball Game is for charity, with money going towards the Boys and Girls Club of the DC area, but the Capitol Police Memorial Fund was added to the list this year.
Fundraising skyrocketed to more than $1.5 million.