I am a life-long Republican in the mold of Vice President Mike Pence; I am a Christian first, I am a conservative second, and finally a Republican. I am strongly prolife and I am very pleased that President Trump is also committed to the lives of unborn babies. However, I strongly urge that actions are taken to save the lives of all children whether born or unborn, for I am the grandfather of a precious little girl killed by a window blind cord.
I am for limited government regulation of our personal lives and business. But no business has the right to police their own safety standards decade after decade while children continue to needlessly die on products that meet those exact standards the industry deems as safe. If this industry refuses to design out hazards on products for which they already have the technology, there must be restraint, there must be regulation, there must be controls to keep these big businesses from destroying lives so needlessly. Please help us by opposing legislation that will make it difficult or impossible for sensible protections that will save lives and prevent injury, to become law. Your Committee will be voting on a number of these bills this week and I strongly urge your opposition. We should not do anything that will tie the hands of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission which is charged with protecting our children from unsafe products.
My daughter Christianna and her husband Christopher were military police officers in January of 2011, when they received orders to return Iraq. It would be Chris’s third tour and Christi’s second tour. They had two precious little girls, Brianna who was almost 2 years old and Alexis who was 7 months old. Our families all agreed to have the children stay with Christi’s mother’s family and with our family for the nine months they would be gone.
At first I couldn’t believe they wanted to leave their precious little girls with us and go off to war together rather than having one parent go away and the other take care of the children. But they thought it would be less stressful on their marriage and their children to serve their tours at the same time and have us grandparents take care of the girls. It turned out to be one of the greatest years of our lives, a year we will never forget.
Parenting young grandchildren can be a very challenging experience as some of you may already know. Their energy, their emotions, their challenges can really stretch grandparents to the limit. But reliving the early years with our own girls, and experiencing the joys and the delights that you can have with these precious little children is beyond imagination.
Here are two entries from my journal in that first year when they lived with us. I share them to help you see how extraordinary a little girl Brianna Jones truly was.
“Brianna, you were so good with words and expressing yourself at such a young age. You always amazed us with your delightful expressions. I’ll never forget the first time we were driving to the top of the bridge to Solomon’s Island and you first looked and beheld the beautiful view of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay. From the back seat we heard your joyful exclamation as you threw your arms out and proclaimed, ‘It’s amazing!!’”
“You loved to ride on my shoulders and shout out with glee, ‘Look how high my are!’ You loved to play games and have fun and dance like a princess. I remember at your Aunt Katie’s wedding that you danced non-stop for almost two hours, even joining the bride and groom for their special dance. You were a bright ray of sunshine, giving us joy and delight. Whenever I see a golden butterfly, I think of you, because you loved our flower garden and the multitude of butterflies that were there that magical summer.”
When Christi and Chris returned from Iraq in December, 2011, we were so thankful for their safe return. The family was reunited and lived in Clarksville, Tennessee, where they were stationed at Fort Campbell. On July 10, 2012, while I was in Texas at a business conference, I received horrible news that my granddaughter Brianna Jones had been strangled to death by a blind cord in the upstairs den.
Here is what occurred in Christi’s home that day. Brianna put on her bride costume and coaxed Daddy into marrying her with Mommy officiating, one of her favorite pretend games. Then Daddy went off to the base, and Mommy had the day off to spend with the girls. Later that day, Christi was in the kitchen with Alexis getting ready for dinner. Brianna was just at the top of the stairs in the den watching her favorite TV show. When Christi hadn’t heard any jumping or singing for a while, she headed up the stairs to investigate what Brianna might have gotten into.
You cannot imagine the shock and horror my daughter felt when she went upstairs to check on Brianna and discovered her limp body hanging there strangled to death by a blind cord! Christi, having military training in rescue and CPR, grabbed my precious granddaughter and began life-saving procedures, all the time knowing it was too late. She called Chris and he raced home just in time to see the ambulance take his new little bride away forevermore.
The impact upon our kids was devastating beyond words; you never fully recover from the sudden death of a child. Christopher retired on disability from the Army due to PTSD and very serious injuries suffered in Iraq to both knees. Christiana suffered from severe PTSD from her war experiences and the devastating loss of her precious little princess. She too lost her Army career and is now retired on disability, and four years later she still walks with her emotional scars and deep pain in her soul. They were extremely fortunate that their love and commitment to each other was so strong that they didn’t lose their marriage also, like almost all families that have lost young children. Our children were willing to sacrifice their young family and even their own lives for our freedom. Shame on those companies that are unwilling to sacrifice profits even though their products are killing our children!
We survived this horrible experience, but our family will never be the same. You see we not only lost our granddaughter, but we felt as if we had lost our own child. We all have been broken by one of the most heart-wrenching events any family can experience. We are heartsick this industry continues to pass through their safety testing corded window covering products that threaten children’s play and sleep environments. Many tenants, including those in HUD housing and military soldiers, have no choice on what is in their homes. Their children sleep and play in environments that are made unsafe by lethal cords in the homes and preschools. Every corded product has a cost effective cordless alternative. Children have strangled on cords in safety cleats, break away cords, loops that were tied down on tensioners that broke away from walls, and other failed safety devices unsuspecting parents trusted as ‘child safe’.
I urge you to consider our story and oppose legislation that would make it harder for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to prevent other families from suffering as ours has. Please oppose the Regulatory Accountability Act and the other legislation that will make it more difficult for agencies to fulfill their missions to protect children and their families.
Thank you for your consideration.