Despite the whirlwind of events in the past decade, in which Jack Gibson has grown from a 15-year-old with a learners permit to a grown man with a career and a mortgage, the anniversary of his fathers death every year is marked with the same sounds that stir up the same memories.
If youd hear the bagpipes and see the color guard, youd understand, Gibson, 25, said. Theres nothing like it.
Gibson is the oldest son of Detective John Gibson, one of two Capitol Police officers shot and killed by a crazed gunman in the Capitol on July 24, 1998.
The younger Gibson, who has his fathers Irish face and friendly demeanor, is now a Capitol Police officer himself, working in the first-responder unit.
Obviously, I felt a lot closer to things once I put on the uniform, Jack said. Its hard, but I wouldnt want to be anywhere else.
Jack is one of three children of Detective Gibson. Kristen, 27, lives in Los Angeles and works as an accountant, and Danny, 24, works for the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, former Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer. Their mother, Evelyn, lives in Woodbridge, Va.
July 24, 1998, the day Russell Weston barreled into the Capitol building with a loaded weapon and killed Detective Gibson and Officer Jacob J.J. Chestnut, was considered a national tragedy that forever changed security measures in Washington, D.C., and indelibly changed how the Hill is guarded.
For the Gibsons, July 24 is a day of tradition.
For 10 years, the Gibson family and a handful of close friends have driven to Arlington National Cemetery in the morning of July 24 to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before drifting over to John Gibsons burial site. While the family maintains similar traditions each July 24, the day is anything but routine.
The same emotions stir up every year, Jack said. It doesnt get any easier.
Not unlike the children of long-serving Hill employees, Jack Gibson was drawn to the Capitol from an early age because of his fathers 18-year career as a detective. His mother had anxiety about his decision, but Jack was more concerned about receiving special treatment than anything else.
I didnt want anyone to give me a break, and I didnt want to ride anyones coattails, Jack said.
While colleagues hail his worth ethic and attitude on the job, Jack, who majored in criminal justice at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., had plenty of patrons on the Capitol Police force eager to hire another Gibson.
Once he decided to be a police officer, I was hoping hed come up here, said Sgt. Jack DeWolfe, a longtime friend to both John Gibson and his family. Its something he doesnt try to dwell on, but for us old-timers, its great to have him here.
Over the past decade, DeWolfe has served as the Gibsons liaison to the Capitol Police. He describes the role as a buffer between the family and police department, but DeWolfes attachment to the Gibsons is as strong as his Massachusetts accent.