CREATING LONG-TERM ENERGY ALTERNATIVES FOR THE NATION ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - June 21, 2007)
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HEROES OF CHARLESTON
Mr. GRAHAM. Madam President, my colleagues have been very kind to me in passing on their condolences from the people of their States regarding Charleston. I publicly acknowledge all the kindness they have shown to me and Senator DeMint regarding the loss of the firefighters in South Carolina. It was a huge blow to the community of Charleston. Nine very brave souls lost their lives trying to protect their fellow citizens. Senator Kennedy spoke very eloquently of the life of a firefighter. Senator Dodd and so many people have offered their condolences.
There will be a memorial service tomorrow in Charleston. I will be going with other members of the delegation, and we will have a resolution before the Senate tomorrow honoring these heroes.
I learned, talking with Senators Kennedy and Kerry, that there were six or seven firefighters lost in Worcester, MA, not that long ago. I have been told the Charleston fire was the largest loss of life among firefighters since 9/11.
Those who have been to Charleston, SC, know what a wonderful, beautiful community it is. It is one of the most open, welcoming communities in the country. To the families, we grieve with you. We can only imagine the pain you are going through. I hope you do realize you have so many people in your corner saying prayers for your well-being and deeply appreciative of the sacrifice your loved ones made.
It is human nature for most people to run away from fires. Only firemen run into them. Thank God people are willing to do that, go off and serve in the military, be policemen, EMTs, many of the other jobs that require self-preservation to take a backseat to the common good. Self-preservation is a strong instinct. I know parents would do anything for their children, and that is a very understandable emotion, taking care of your loved ones and your family. That probably trumps self-preservation--most of the time, anyway. Doing it for somebody you don't know makes you a hero. When you are willing to give your life, risk your life for someone you don't know, that is where the term ``hero'' applies.
To the families who have lost loved ones, I do hope you have some comfort knowing that what your loved one was doing was so important. In this case, there was a belief that a civilian was left in the warehouse unaccounted for, so the firemen went back in to look for this person. Unfortunately, the worst happened. The building collapsed on them, and there was a tremendous tragedy.
There are so many ways to thank firemen, and I am very inadequate in that regard.
Similar to most young kids, I thought being a fireman was about the top of the pyramid. It seemed like the neatest job in the world. But as you get older, you realize how dangerous it is. It is one of those occupations, such as being a policeman or other occupations--but particularly firemen--that every day is a real risk you take.
To the people of Charleston, SC: I know you are banded together. I know you are mourning together. You have the wishes of this body. All the Senators--Republicans and Democrats--very much have you in their prayers.
To the families: Tomorrow will be a difficult day. It will be a very touching day. It will be a day of remembrance and mourning. It will also be a day of celebration, celebrating the lives of those brave firefighters who represent the best of my State and the best of humanity.
I would like to end this statement with the understanding that there is nothing we can do to replace your loss. But we can and we will be there by your side as you move forward.
I yield back the remainder of my time.