t probably is not the way most freshman members of Congress envision starting their first term taking on the issues that brought them to Washington. But it was how ours started.
Our first days in the new Congress were full of constituent meetings, first votes and making sure Arizona's Fifth Congressional office was as accessible to you as possible. Joyce and I spent our first day in Washington attending a bipartisan church service, TV interviews, taking the oath of office, hosting our first telephone town hall meeting, and watching as John Boehner was sworn in as the 61st Speaker of the House.
This first week of tradition and ceremony was exciting and provided us the opportunity to welcome many of the wonderful people of the Fifth District community who made the trek to our nation's Capitol. Even though we were honored to participate in such a historic moment, we were looking to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Then, less than 72 hours after Joyce and I chatted in the U.S. Capitol Building with our fellow Arizonan, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), we heard the horrible news that she and her staff had been attacked. Our focus in Congress quickly shifted from creating jobs and addressing health care to uniting in prayer and support for the victims and their families.
My committee meetings turned into candlelight vigils and the policy work we had hoped to jump into quickly paled in comparison. It was a time of heavy hearts for everyone in our community.
In my first seven days on the job, I flew back to Arizona four times. Along with my fellow Arizona colleagues, I flew with the president to attend the memorial service at the McKale Center in Tucson.
There, as well as at other memorials I attended, I saw the tenor of local politics as well as in D.C. change overnight. I saw people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs come together to do what Arizonans and Americans do in times of struggle: unite.
Though still with heavy hearts, this week Congress is going to reconvene and take up the agenda of job creation, free enterprise and economic growth that the people sent us here to do. And we will do so moving forward with the memory of those we lost, gratitude for those who are still with us, and a renewed inspiration to get back to the people's business.
David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) is a member of Congress in Arizona's District 5, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills, Tempe, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and portions of west Chandler and west Mesa. Reach him locally at (480) 946-2411 or in Washington D.C. at (202) 225-2190.