January 6 reminded me of my time in combat, not America. Here’s how we move forward.

My first day in Congress was one of the proudest days of my life. Being sworn in at the Capitol with my family by my side is a moment I will never forget. I will also never forget what happened three days later. January 6 will go down as one of the darkest and lowest days in American history. The scene that unfolded reminded me more of what I witnessed on combat missions in Afghanistan or Iraq than anything I had ever seen in our country. The violence that occurred that day is not indicative of the country I have served or the nation we all love.

The morning of January 6,, I was on the House floor listening to debate from members of drastically different political spectrums as they peacefully discussed the vote later that day to certify the election. As we were preparing to vote, something that none of us ever expected to happen became reality: the Capitol was overrun by domestic terrorists.

Police were doing their best to relocate my colleagues to a safer place, but I felt I needed to stay. If there is one thing I have learned from my time in combat, it is that when events like these occur, there is no time to hesitate. It is a fight or flight situation and if you choose to stay, you better be ready to fight.

I am grateful for the work that day of the Capitol Police and my fellow congressmen who also chose to stay behind –– congressmen Ronny Jackson, Troy Nehls, Pat Fallon and Markwayne Mullin. I distinctly remember looking at each other and knowing that however this might end, we were all in it together. We were ready for the worst – ready to fight these cowards with whatever we had to protect our chamber from their hate, evil and violence.

I am proud to say that that Wednesday, the mob failed to breach the House chamber. I firmly believe if they had, we would have experienced a destructive situation, similar to what happened in the Senate – or worse, members of Congress could have been harmed or taken hostage by these domestic terrorists.

As members of Congress, we are expected to have words or remarks for every moment. To this day, I have not been able to describe the sinking sensation I felt for our country as the Capitol was overrun. We must continue to mourn the lives that were lost and figure out how it all went so wrong. At the same time, we should work to begin the healing process and reunite our country under the same values we were founded upon. Last week –– in the same chamber that I protected that Wednesday –– we voted on several measures that I believe would only serve to further divide us.

I opposed efforts to impeach President Trump because, with less than one week left in his term, those actions did nothing to heal our country at the time. We need a steady hand to calm the unrest in our nation. I don’t know if being optimistic is the right decision, but I believe that when Congress moves on from this vote we can come together again.

It is high time to set aside the finger-pointing. We need to reunite for our common values. In order to do so, it’s imperative to change the toxic rhetoric that is so present in politics today. I am committed to trying to find common ground with the incoming administration when it is right for the 23rd District. I encourage my fellow Republican members to do the same – but the responsibility does not just lie in the halls of Congress. We need to change our tune when talking to neighbors, friends and loved ones who think differently from us. In a time when tensions run high, even the smallest interactions can change the way people think.

The first four days of my term as Congressman had major highs and all-time lows, but the disappointments do not have to define us. In America, our best days lie ahead. I look forward to continuing to work with both my Democrat and Republican colleagues to move our country in a better direction and deliver results for Texans and Americans.