House Passes Bill to Name Virginia Beach Post Office After Keith Cox

July 17, 2019
Press Release
Virginia’s Entire U.S. House Delegation Cosponsored Bipartisan Legislation

WASHINGTON – Weeks after tragedy struck Virginia Beach, the House today passed Congresswoman Elaine Luria’s (VA-02) bipartisan bill that would name a city post office in honor of Ryan “Keith” Cox, a hero who died while protecting others.

Cox was one of 12 people killed in the May 31 mass shooting, the worst in America so far this year.

The full Virginia delegation supported the bill, which Congresswoman Luria introduced on June 17. The post office is located at 2509 George Mason Drive. Congresswoman Luria today spoke on the House Floor to honor Cox’s memory.

“In our community’s darkest hour, Keith prioritized the safety of his colleagues over his own,” Congresswoman Luria said before the vote. “He was a true servant leader who made the ultimate sacrifice. This is our chance to tell Keith’s story, to showcase his heroism to our community, our Commonwealth, and our nation.”

The House then unanimously passed the bill in honor of Cox, whose sights were set on entering the ministry before he was killed. Known to have a “golden voice,” he sang in his church choir. Friends described him as a kind man who looked out for others.

At no time was this more apparent than when Cox laid down his life after guiding colleagues to safety on May 31 in Building 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. Rejecting coworkers’ calls to take refuge, he stood his ground in a hallway and said: “I’ve got to see if anybody else needs help.”

After the tragedy, Congresswoman Luria was approached by Virginia Beach Postmaster Joseph A. Croce Jr. with a request to honor Cox. Congresswoman Luria immediately introduced the House post office bill, beginning the legislative process.

To become law, the bill now must pass the Senate and be signed by the President. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia have urged Senate committee leaders to take up the bill to expedite passage in that chamber.

Congressman Bobby Scott, Congressman A. Donald McEachin, Congressman Rob Wittman, Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, Congressman Denver Riggleman, Congressman Morgan Griffith, Congressman Don Beyer, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, Congressman Gerry Connolly, and Congressman Ben Cline are original cosponsors of the House bill.

Congresswoman Luria’s full floor speech is below.

I rise today to honor the life and heroic actions of Ryan “Keith” Cox.

On May 31st, the year’s largest mass shooting in America struck our Virginia Beach community. Keith was among the 12 wonderful people who lost their lives in the tragedy. In his final moments, Keith showed extraordinary bravery.

Keith was an active and irreplaceable member of our community. He regularly attended his father’s church, New Hope Baptist, where he sang in the choir with his renowned “golden voice.” He had hoped to follow his calling and in his father’s footsteps and become more active in the ministry.

For 12 years, Keith served the City of Virginia Beach as a public utilities employee. His coworkers described him as someone who was always nice to others and treated colleagues to lunch. One coworker called Keith a “teddy bear” who always knew what to say to make an upset colleague smile.

Those who knew him say Keith embodied leadership. Keith’s friends and family agree that he made his impact by putting the needs of others before his own. Keith’s last day on Earth was no different.

During the shooting, Keith led several of his coworkers to safety. Keith then refused to take refuge, stating: “I’ve got to see if anybody else needs help.” Keith stood watch and checked on his colleagues, voluntarily exposing himself to a deadly line of fire.

One of Keith’s colleagues summed it up: “If it wasn’t for him, there would have been several more people that had perished.” In our community’s darkest hour, Keith prioritized the safety of his colleagues over his own. He was a true servant leader who made the ultimate sacrifice.

This is our chance to tell Keith’s story, to showcase his heroism to our community, our Commonwealth, and our nation.

I was proud to introduce this bill to name a local post office after Keith. When we walk by that post office and see Keith’s name, we’ll think of his sacrifice and the lives he saved.

I thank the Virginia delegation for supporting this bipartisan legislation to honor Keith’s legacy and impact on our Virginia Beach community.

I urge support of this bill and yield back my time.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.

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