Corker, Alexander Honor Lives of Justin and Stephanie Shults

Posted on April 4, 2016

WASHINGTON – In remarks on the U.S. Senate floor today, Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) honored the lives of Tennessean Justin Shults and his wife Stephanie, who were among those killed in the terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium. Transcripts of their remarks are below. Video footage is available here.

The full text of Corker’s floor remarks follows:

Mr. President, I rise today to honor the lives of Tennessean Justin Shults and his wife Stephanie, who were among those killed in the terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium, on the morning of March 22.

I want to thank our senior senator, Lamar Alexander, for joining me here this afternoon and for the way he serves our state.

We are heartbroken by this tragedy, which once again hit too close to home.

Not long ago, Senator Alexander and I came before this body to mourn the loss of five American heroes we lost in a terror attack in my hometown of Chattanooga.

We are here again today, heartbroken that two more outstanding individuals were taken by evil.

And we are reminded that terrorism knows no borders or boundaries.

Justin Shults was a native of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

He attended Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, where he was valedictorian of his class.

A bright young man, Justin received an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University before attending Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, where he met Stephanie, a native of Lexington, Kentucky.

Justin and Stephanie’s journey is inspiring.

Two young people from small towns, they set out on a journey to explore the world and to broaden their horizons.

They moved to Brussels in 2014.

Justin worked for Clarcor, a Franklin, Tennessee, manufacturing company. And Stephanie worked for Mars.

They had a bright future ahead of them, a future that was stolen by terror.

To their family members and to all who loved them, we offer our prayers and deepest sympathies as we mourn their passing.

We also extend condolences to all of the families who lost loved ones and to the people of Belgium.

I also want to thank the many individuals and organizations that were instrumental in helping Justin and Stephanie’s families in the aftermath of the attack.

-       The State Department

-       The FBI

-       The consulate in Brussels

-       Delta Airlines

-       Justin and Stephanie’s companies, Clarcor and Mars

-       And members of our staff, especially Bess McWherter

From Chattanooga, to Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels, and beyond, we have seen unimaginable events unfold before our eyes.

It is clear that the fight against evil will be a long-term struggle.

To protect our citizens, we must deepen our partnership with Europe and other allies to defeat ISIS and other terror groups so that no more families will have to deal with the heartbreak Justin and Stephanie’s families face today.

Mr. President, we mourn their passing. We honor their lives. And we renew our commitment to fight against this evil.

And with that, I yield the floor to our distinguished senior senator, Lamar Alexander.

The full text of Alexander’s floor remarks follows:

Mr. President, I join Senator Corker in expressing to the families of Justin and Stephanie our deepest sympathy for, and horror over, what happened in Brussels to them.

I want to thank Senator Corker as well. Because of his position as chairman of the foreign relations committee, he was able to do some things that all of us would like to have been able to do. He was able to help the family, [as] a liaison between them and the State Department. 

These are things he wouldn't say about himself, but I’d like to say them. 

He and his staff worked to help get expedited passports. They stayed in touch with the family. I hope that the families of Justin and Stephanie will know that when Senator Corker and his staff are in touch with them, they're in touch with them for all of us in the United States Senate. And all of us who are citizens of Tennessee. 

There's so much on television today that is horrible and violent and terroristic that we become immune to it. It's almost as if it were an unreality. We don't want to believe that any of it’s true. Until it hits home—until it hits home in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, a mountain town. To a bright young man everyone in the community seems to have known—one of those young men everybody looks at and says, ‘He's going to amount to something, we’re going to watch him one day.’ To a young woman in [from] Lexington, Kentucky who met this young man at Vanderbilt’s graduate school of management.

And not just in Sevier County, Tenn., and Lexington [Ky.] where so many people knew these two promising young Americans, but also in Nashville and the Vanderbilt community. This is actually the third young promising life taken from the Vanderbilt Owens School family. Taylor Force, a student there, was killed on a class visit to Israel a few weeks ago. And any time that's a horrifying, terrible thought, but this is a generation of young Americans who have grown up with the idea of being—of living in the world, of making a contribution to the entire world. 

That's what Justin and Stephanie were doing when they went to Brussels with their companies. And now their lives are cut short by an evil act. So, our hearts go out to their families and to the communities from which they come in Gatlinburg, in Lexington—and to the Nashville, Vanderbilt, Owens School communities.

And my personal thanks to Senator Corker for doing what all of us want to do as well as we can, which is to be helpful to their families and express to them our appreciation for the lives of their children and our sorrow at what has happened to them.