WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today on the tragic shooting at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
“I hope that we will pause tonight and honor the memory of Stephen Tyrone Johns of Temple Hills, Maryland, who died today defending the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum against an anti-Semitic gunman. Although the gunman appears to have been a hardened denier of the Holocaust, his crime only brings home the high value of that museum of remembrance, which preserves the historical memory of a people whose communities and institutions have so often been the target of terroristic violence.
“That memory is preserved, in ways large and small, by the dedication of people like Officer Johns. In the wake of today’s killing, Mark Blumenthal, an online editor, shared the story of his wife’s visit to the Holocaust Museum: ‘She arrived at the end of a busy work day, in a rush, just a few minutes before closing time. Unfortunately, given the late hour, they had run out of the candles usually provided in the Hall of Remembrance for visitors to light and leave in the niches of the outer walls. Already feeling emotional…she broke down sobbing. A staffer nearby immediately came to her assistance, asking if she needed help. She explained, and the gentleman asked her to wait. He soon returned with a candle, explaining with a conspiratorial wink that he kept his own special supply for such emergencies.’
“In gestures as simple and kind as that, and acts as courageous as Officer Johns’s, we can find ways to carry on the duty of memory. Today’s crime may have been intended to scare us away from the Holocaust Museum; may it fail. May visitors return in force to bear witness to today’s loss and to the historical facts whose denial remains, in the words of President Obama, ‘baseless…ignorant, and…hateful.’”