Flag Day marred by fear

Americans will be watching closely as more information emerges about Wednesday’s shooting at an Alexandria, Va., baseball field at which a reported 22 Republican members of Congress were practicing for a charity event.

However, citizens of this country will be doing more than waiting for additional details about this horrific episode, what preceded the gunfire, and all that motivated the shooter — James T. Hodgkinson III of Belleville, Ill. — to target the group of lawmakers at which he directed his attack.

Beyond seeking more basic facts surrounding the incident, the nation’s citizenry will be reflecting on the anger, fear and general divisiveness currently infecting this great land.

And, more than that, Americans will be expressing dismay about Washington’s inability to put to rest that anger and those fears and inspire a renewed sense of confidence in the work of the federal government and in its motives.

Additionally, rightly or wrongly, some people will direct blame at the current administration for the seemingly daily turmoil and distractions from the task of governing — and for failing to inspire widespread faith that the country’s best interests are being protected.

Rather than stoking fear about what lies ahead, Washington needs to step back and begin to chart a course for restoring the confidence of all Americans, not just a segment of the population.

The investigations currently underway need to be pursued expeditiously and be brought to a quick conclusion. Foremost, it must be acknowledged that the task isn’t a Democratic or Republican matter but a nonpartisan responsibility.

Within a matter of a couple of hours after Wednesday’s incident, it was known that Hodgkinson disliked President Donald Trump and was deeply troubled about the efforts of Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Many other Americans share those views but never would consider perpetrating a horrific act like Hodgkinson’s.

Still, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that a few others might be capable of a similar or worse act, and that’s why U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., following the attack on his GOP colleagues and others at the baseball practice session, made it a point to say that members of Congress are deeply concerned about their security, going forward.

In addition, he lamented the deterioration of the nation’s political climate, which he seemed to imply might have had some hand in setting the stage for the situation that erupted at 7:09 a.m. Wednesday.

That spawns an obvious question: Will members of Congress in the future, out of fear for their safety, stop meeting with their constituents at town hall meetings? Is the freedom that the American Flag symbolizes going to be dealt a prolonged blow by aggrieved individuals incapable of controlling their emotions and putting issues into reasonable perspective?

Flag Day, one of those days when Americans should have been feeling extra pride about living in this free land, were instead dealt a somber reminder that all is not well and that it’s time for the country’s leaders to fix what’s wrong.

Anger, fear and division should not be widespread in America; that’s the ultimate message to be derived from Hodgkinson’s misguided act.

It’s tragic that Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise and the others wounded in the attack had to be victims during that message’s delivery.