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Ms. DeLAURO. I thank the gentleman, and I thank him for the depth of his feeling and the work he has done over the last several days, to help to bring some solace and peace to families who have been so struck by the devastation in Newtown, Connecticut.
I strongly support this resolution and condemn, as my colleagues do, the vicious attack at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and commemorate our children and the teachers who were struck down in this terrible tragedy.
It is overwhelming. I think all of us at the memorial service last night were overwhelmed. It was a slaughter of the innocent. Every parent and grandparent sees in the eyes and the smiles and the looks on those children's faces who we lost their own children and their grandchildren, knowing that there for the grace of God go I.
What happened in Newtown is unthinkable. A normal Friday morning in the midst of a holiday season, Sandy Hook Elementary School, a place where children should be safe to learn, to grow, suddenly without warning became a place of senseless violence. Within minutes, the actions of a young and mentally ill man devastated a small town community, broke the hearts of millions across the country, and murdered six teachers and administrators and 20 innocent children, all of them between 6 and 7 years old.
They're that big. They are that big.
Such an unspeakable crime seems impossible to make sense of. How could this young man kill so many innocent? How could so many beautiful little angels with their whole lives ahead of them be taken from their families? They were just babies. They were just babies. It's hard to witness such a senseless and evil act and similar acts that some of my colleagues in this Chamber have faced. In Aurora and Portland, Oakland, Tucson, Blacksburg, Littleton, you can't help but feel a despairing of the soul.
We in this institution cannot afford that luxury. We need to be strong for the families of the fallen in Newtown and for the families of children all over America. To the Newtown community and to all of the Connecticut families and parents and siblings who have been touched by what happened on Friday, our thoughts and our prayers are with you. What you are going through is indescribable. We can be sympathetic. We can be empathetic. We do not know that sense of despair that you feel, but you must know that our Nation shares and mourns your loss.
I, too, as did my colleague, Chris Murphy, acknowledge the tremendous heroism of the adults who were killed on Friday. Individuals like Principal Dawn Hochsprung who ran at the assassin, told people to run away from him in order to protect her kids and the school. The schoolteacher Vicki Soto of Stratford, Connecticut, and I represent Stratford, Connecticut, who in the heat of a terrible moment gave her life to protect her students. She hid them. She hid them, and lost her life in doing so.
They all died in the line of duty. They are heroes and heroines. They gave their lives to protect those children that they deal with every day, that they educate, that they care for, and that they love as if they were their own.
To the first responders who put their lives on the line to stop the senseless killing in Sandy Hook, we say thank you for your courage and for preventing more young lives from being lost, for they too ran into a building not knowing what they were going to face.
Moving forward, we in this institution have to take commonsense, constructive steps that will help to ensure these types of tragedies will not happen again; and they include ensuring better access to quality mental health care, strengthening programs so communities will have the necessary mental health resources.
We've heard so much in the last several days about how we need to secure the physical plant of the school; and, yes, we need to do that. They need to be secure, but we cannot turn them into prisons for these young people. I wish and hope that at the same time we're talking about those kinds of efforts, that we talk about putting a mental health professional in our schools. That is security, as well as stationing police cruisers in front of our schools.
It means doing everything in our power to prevent guns from falling into the hands of violent criminals, and giving law enforcement officials the tools they need.
The President said last night that caring for our children must be our first task, and we can no longer tolerate these tragedies, and we must change. He asked if we are doing what we can to protect our children, and he said that answer must be no, and we need to protect them.
At a more fundamental level, we cannot let this terrible tragedy harden our hearts against our fellow men and women. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.
So let us honor the fallen in Newtown by doing everything that we can to prevent these tragedies in the future. Let us follow the example of those heroes and innocents who perished. Let's commit to one another to rekindling our faith and love, compassion and community. Let's hold our children and our grandchildren close. Love them and tell them that you love them as many times as you are able.
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