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Thanking the First Responders in the Boston Marathon Bombing

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KENNEDY. I would like to begin by thanking the gentlelady from Massachusetts for the opportunity and most importantly for pulling us all together here today to mark a moment that none of us will ever forget, a signature moment in Massachusetts history.

I also want to begin by recognizing the victims of the horrific attacks that happened last Monday. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families as they begin a long road to recovery. I, I think like many of my colleagues from Massachusetts and like so many people from Massachusetts and from really around the country and around the world, have always delighted in Marathon Monday. I don't know how many times I went out and watched the runners as they ran by on their quest to the finish line on Boylston Street. My stepmother has actually run the marathon a number of times; and together with my dad and brother, we would often go down to Heartbreak Hill to watch the runners at the time that they need it most.

As you see all the runners run by, I think one of the things that always stuck with me was how many people were there cheering them on. As you think about it, 26.2 miles, with people from the very beginning in Hopkinton to the end on Boylston Street in Boston, two, three, four, five rows deep on each side of the street, sitting there, screaming, yelling, offering a bottle of water or literally a hand to those who are trying, striving for an incredible feat of personal endurance and excellence.

That is really, I think, to me what that marathon, what that day, is all about. It's about a community that comes together to cheer on not just the runners but to celebrate what we have built together, to recognize that that day isn't just about those individual feats of excellence but about a community that is willing to cheer on complete strangers, for runners to know--and you'll hear it if you talk to those that have competed in that race--that, yes, it is an extraordinarily difficult course, but that Boston is one of the best marathons to run because there is always a crowd that is there to carry you through to the finish line. Complete strangers, people you have never seen before and will never see again, but they are there to offer a hand.

And so it was with great sadness, but also great pride, that I watched the events unfold on Monday, to see complete strangers run into danger rather than flee from it; to see our first responders answer our call of bravery without hesitation; to meet the doctor that after running the marathon and completing 26.2 miles ran to work so that he could get started helping save victims; to meet some of the victims and their families, to know that we will never, despite how much we have come together, be able to replace Martin and Krystle and Lu and Officer Collier, but that the long path to recovery, that we will be there with them for every step of the way; to recognize the law enforcement officers that put themselves in grave danger, never quite knowing what might happen or what weapons these two terrible individuals might have on them, that took great risks for the sake of safety for our own communities; to the investigators and the prosecutors that now have the long task of bringing these individuals to justice; to our sports teams, to the 17,000 strong that sang the national anthem in Boston Garden and the 30,000-plus that belted it out at Fenway Park; to Mayor Menino, Vice President Biden and President Obama for their leadership in this difficult time; to the One Fund for Boston that in shortly over 10 days has already grown to over $20 million, pouring in from citizens from around the country to help provide a little bit of relief to those who will need it most in this long road to recovery.

It is an extraordinary message, a powerful symbol that gets back to what Boston and Massachusetts have always been about. From the first people that set foot on our shores, the earliest settlers and the Pilgrims, that we have each other's backs and we always will, and that next year on Patriots Day the marathon will be run more crowded and louder than ever.


Ms. TSONGAS. I thank my colleague for his very insightful comments. It is so true: it's a spirit of community that was so evident. It's embedded in the race itself, the marathon itself. It's something that was so evident as everybody responded, as the bombs went off to tragic effect. It's been followed up with all the tremendous outpouring of contributions both to individual funds as well as the One Fund; and in the smallest of ways, as I mentioned, Lowell High School sent prom tickets to Sydney Corcoran, wanting to make sure that she would be able to attend, and also that spirit of help

from across the country, to have a young man who lost his leg in a shark attack in Hawaii at his own expense come to Boston to visit with some of those who had sadly lost their legs, to say, yes, you're going to be, not fine, forever changed, but your life will be very productive and positive. We have seen this over and over again, and I thank you for your comments.

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