Fatherhood in the Halls of Congress

A week ago, we watched with tear-filled eyes as news of horrific tragedy unfolded in Newtown, CT. The victims were not militants in far off battlefields; they were small children – beautiful, young lives with limitless possibilities ahead of them. But in a matter of moments, they, along with teachers and staff from Sandy Hook Elementary, were taken from us.

I felt the anguish of every parent in the nation as our worst nightmares flashed across the TV screen, prompting one chilling thought: that could have been my child. It could have been any one of our children in the classroom that day. Since Friday, I’ve woken up every day grateful that it wasn’t our community – that our schools weren’t targeted. But now, still in the shadow of that grief, we face serious questions and challenges about how we as a city, state, and nation move forward.

As a Congressman, I regularly struggle with issues of education, health care, and public safety.

But as a father to a six-year-old daughter, the events last Friday have made these questions more difficult and the need to meet these challenges far more urgent. I constantly reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we are yet to go as a nation. But it’s more personal when I think about the nation I want to leave Salimah – the opportunities I want to await her. It’s more personal when she is with me on the House floor as I cast votes, or when she looks up at me, her fears extinguished simply by my being near. It’s most personal when I think about how much she is counting on me to do what is right, not just for her, but for families around the country.

I want the America of tomorrow to be a place where my daughter can achieve her wildest dreams, just as my wife and I have. I want us to be a nation where our schools unlock the American dream for each and every child, no matter where the school is located. I want us to be a community where families thrive and grow without fear of crime entangling their neighborhoods.

And I want to live in a nation where weapons of war don’t shatter the sanctity of our schools or the security of our communities.

My daughter deserves that nation. Your children and grandchildren deserve that nation.

I fully recognize that the decisions I make in Congress don’t just affect my daughter and our family; they affect children all over the country. The choices we make in government will impact countless generations to come. And while right now my conversations with my daughter revolve around American Girl dolls and playing dress up, it is her voice and her future for which I’m fighting every single day.

This job is one I don’t take lightly. Being a dad makes me a better man and a better Congressman.

Rep. André Carson (IN-7)

December 21, 2012

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