“Courage”, the Duke declared, “is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” For all the abuse – merited and undeserved – leveled at those who run for and serve in the United States Congress, the fact of the matter is these people place themselves in the public square in order to serve their fellow citizens.

Life as a public figure – in this case a Member of Congress – brings with it an certain amount of increased risk. There is a certain percentage of the population that is just plain dangerously crazy. I submit that every single member of congress gets their fair share of hate mail, death threats, and other violent wishes sent their way. Knowing the risks they face, they have a choice – hide in their offices or saddle up and do the job they were hired to do.

It was at an event that personified the constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and petitioning the government that a severely deranged lunatic pulled a handgun and proceeded to inflict carnage on a cross section of America gathered at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson. As of this writing, Congresswoman Giffords remains in intensive care. Six Americans were killed in this senseless attack. They include a great grandmother, a pastor, a federal judge, a recently engaged congressional staffer, and a nine-year-old girl recently elected to her school student council. Young Christina Taylor Green, born on September 11, 2001, had come to that parking lot hoping to learn more about her country’s government.

Please forgive a personal reflection here. My only daughter – whom I refer to under the nome de blog “Corderinha” – is a fair lass of only eight years. I can only imagine the horrific loss to the Green family.

I will not here dignify the shooter by naming him or the litany of problems and issues from which he is alleged to suffer. I will also not bother to respond to the chorus of pundits, politicians, and talking heads who seek to score cheap political points at the expense of innocent people like Christina Green and brave public servants like Gabby Giffords.

These Americans were engaged in one of this nation’s finest traditions – one which Congresswoman Giffords had reiterated on the floor of the House of Representatives during Thursday’s reading of the Constitution. She had the courage to saddle up and do her job and should be commended for so doing. I wish my congressman was more like her.