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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 - Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009--Continued -- (Senate - September 11, 2008)



Mrs. DOLE. Mr. President, it is with a heavy heart that I rise today, on this solemn anniversary, to pay my respects to all of the dedicated emergency responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our citizens. We all remember with great sadness the horrendous loss of life at the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on that fateful morning, including the tragic loss of so many firefighters, police officers, and other first responders who heroically rushed into danger, risking their own lives to save the lives of others.

Nationwide, the men and women of our emergency response forces, like the comrades in arms of those New York and Washington first responders, share a common sense of purpose and dedication to defending their communities in times of peril.

Today, I would also like to honor the memories of two brave firefighters from my hometown of Salisbury, NC who died in the line of duty this year.

In March, the Salisbury Fire Department lost two of its finest, Justin Monroe and Victor Isler, while they were battling a blaze that may have been the worst in our town's history. Both men left behind many heartbroken family members and friends--and a grieving community.

Our thoughts have also been with several other Salisbury firefighters who suffered burns and other injuries while trying to rescue their comrades and contain the fire. As they continue to heal from that tragic day, I hope they know that our thoughts and prayers are continuously with them.

As a young boy, Justin Monroe dreamed of fighting fires. While in high school, he enrolled in the Millers Ferry Volunteer Fire Department's junior firefighter program, and in June of 2007, he accepted his dream job at the Salisbury Fire Department. Justin was proud of his work and looked forward to each and every day at the department. He was even studying for his fire technology degree at a local community college.

Justin's mother Lisa was working at Salisbury's Rowan Regional Medical Center when she learned that at least one firefighter had perished and that several others had been injured fighting the fire at Salisbury Millwork, a manufacturer of custom woodwork. Her greatest fear as a parent was realized when the body of her 19-year-old son, who had been living with her at home, was brought into the hospital. One of Lisa's colleagues summed up the emotion by saying, ``It's devastating when one of your coworkers loses a family member, but losing a child at such a young age is really heartbreaking. Children are not supposed to die before their parents.''

Justin's fallen comrade, Victor Isler, joined the Salisbury Fire Department a few days after Justin came on board. Victor moved to North Carolina from New York, where he served as a medic with the New York City Fire Department and helped save countless lives when our Nation was attacked on September 11. At age 40, Victor decided to head south and join the Salisbury department. A devoted husband to his wife Tracy and the proud parent of two teenagers, he quickly became a father figure to many of the department's younger firefighters.

Victor's childhood best friend, Chris Damato, also served in the Salisbury department. On the day after Victor gave his life, Chris' wife gave birth to a little boy, named Nicholas Victor as a tribute to their dear friend.

Our firefighters are always there in times of need. Very sadly, our communities sometimes lose some of their finest public servants like Justin Monroe and Victor Isler. Their sacrifice serves as a somber reminder of the dangers these men and women face each and every day. We owe all of our courageous firefighters and first responders a tremendous debt of gratitude for their selfless commitment to keeping us safe.

As we join together as a Nation to remember September 11, and the courage and sacrifice demonstrated by countless Americans on that day, my thoughts and prayers are also with Justin and Victor's loved ones and everyone who has been affected by these tragedies. I join with my neighbors and the entire Salisbury community in mourning their loss, and pray that they find solace in the knowledge that these men are remembered as heroes of the highest order, an inspiration to us all.


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