National tragedy hit home

Almost every news source he flashed through kept repeating one word. “Dead.” News agencies reported that the inspirational provider of one of the most meaningful experiences in the life of a Northern Kentucky University student had been killed.

Kevin Golden, an NKU student from Louisville, took it all in. He could not believe that the congresswoman he had interned for in 2008 was dead.
“It felt strange to be so emotional about it. I didn’t cry, I just wanted to call all of the people who would feel exactly the same way I would,” he said. “It was very surreal…unexplainable really.”

It was not until several minutes later that Golden learned the initial news reports were incorrect, that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords from Arizona had been shot and seriously wounded but was still clinging to life. He had already tried to make plans to stay with someone for a memorial service.

“Thankfully they were mistaken and retracted their statements about an hour later,” Golden said.

“No one here knows who she is, but I’m sitting in my living room staring at the television for hours. It’s so different when it’s someone you know personally that they are talking about.”

Golden walked alongside Giffords on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and said he observed how she reached across the aisle while standing firm in those things which she believed were right.

“Sometimes when tragedy strikes, people tend to remember only the best things to say about people. In this case, nothing that was said in the news reports was any sort of exaggeration,” Golden said.

Giffords was not afraid to “make waves,” according to Golden.

“She was different, but she wasn’t rude about it. She had strong ideas about what would make Arizona and America a better place,” Golden said. “She wasn’t afraid to disagree, (and) she wasn’t afraid to talk about the disagreements either.”

Golden, who currently serves on the NKU Board of Regents and as president of the Student Government Association, found inspiration in her style of politics.

“She, for me, is a new age politician. She believes what she thinks is right and believes it unabashedly,” Golden said. “It sounds corny now, but she is someone who I see making great progress for our country because she didn’t care who you were, she wanted to work for what was best.”

But, he said that while she is a new age politician she still has at least one traditional stance on a currently controversial issue: gun control. Even after this tragedy, he expects that to remain the same.

“Strangely enough, Congresswoman Giffords is a strong proponent of gun ownership rights. She has them, and has published opinions about how she feels about the debate,” Golden said. “Coming out of this, I don’t think her stance will change. That is the kind of integrity she has about her ideals.”

The placement with Giffords’ office was the through a D.C.-based internship program and even though Golden is not from Arizona, he chose to work with Giffords because of her role in foreign policy committees.

“My entire experience in DC was reaffirming because it was the first time I actually applied anything I learned in the classroom to real life and I loved it,” Golden said. “The rush of being in an environment where quick decisions have to be made and you’re able to talk to people who are really voting on things that will affect people’s daily lives is amazing.”

Golden said he learned a lot and is still interested in working in politics.

“I always thought it would be neat if I ended up working for her after I graduated,” he said.

He also said he adopts Giffords’ reported attitude on working towards change instead of working against the other political parties.

“We have to be able to talk about things and hear all opinions, all sides,” Golden said.

“There are these slivers of discord that dominate political campaigns because they make headlines and get air time. The conversation in this country needs to be just as much about what we agree on and can get accomplished as what we disagree on and need to compromise…let’s all agree to that and move on to compromise so that when the majority switches parties, we go about our work the same way–together.”

He joins in decrying the violence which injured his former boss and a killed one of her staff members, Gabe Zimmerman, with whom Golden said he briefly worked.

“There is never any reason why people should take things into their own hands and come out of the thought process with attempting to kill someone,” he said.

Story by Jesse Call