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Every week that Congress is in session, I travel to Washington, D.C., for votes and then come back home to my district, constituents, and family. Over the last six years that I’ve had the privilege of representing New York’s 1st Congressional District in Congress, this has become my routine, but returning home last week was anything but normal. 

On Jan. 6, I was in the House chamber, where I witnessed the best of America collide with the worst of it in a moment that I will never forget. What we all witnessed on that day should never be a scene at the U.S. Capitol. This is not the America we all love. 

In this country, we can debate and we can disagree. We can all passionately love our great nation, but in our republic we elect people to represent us and voice our concerns in the House and Senate, and we sure have many diverse concerns.

There must be zero tolerance for violence in any form, and I totally condemn in the strongest possible terms the destruction, vandalism, and loss of life that occurred inside of our glorious, historic Capitol.

We live in the greatest nation in the history of the world, and we have big challenges at the moment, real disagreement over important issues, and a precarious future as a republic. 

Moving forward, there will be continued debate and there will be disagreement, but out of that must be a healthy, guarded, and thriving democracy. Right now, we must recommit to working towards a vigorous defense of Lady Liberty at all costs, and the pursuit of unity whenever possible.

For our nation to thrive, we need our economy growing, our national security strong, our freedoms defended, our Constitution protected, and, most importantly, we need presidential transfers of power to be peaceful. Following Congress’ certification of the Electoral College results, Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as president of the United States, and Kamala D. Harris of California as vice president.

We all love our country, and want to see our nation stronger, safer, freer, and more prosperous than ever before. Of course, there will be disagreement about the best ways to do this, but in the midst of these passionate discussions, must be a commitment to pursue common ground however possible. 

As we look to the future with the resolve to create an ever more prosperous nation, let us take this moment to renew our spirit for whatever lies ahead, and remember that we are all Americans first.

Lee Zeldin is the U.S. Rep. for New York’s 1st Congressional District.

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