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Public Statements

Aurora Theater Shooting

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I rise today to mark a somber milestone. Nearly 1 year ago, Colorado and the Nation were shocked by the horrific scene at an Aurora movie theater. Even before the sun rose that Friday, July 20, 2012, we began hearing of a senseless mass shooting that took the lives of 12 people and injured 70 more.

Today I want to mark the anniversary of this tragedy and to honor the strength that so many Coloradans have shown--both on that day and in the weeks and months since.

The Aurora theater shooting shook us, it shocked us, it outraged us, but, as I said one year ago, it did not break us. Even today we are seeing that the legacy of this terrible tragedy is not the horror of that day but, rather, the courage and resilience of the people who have refused to let this event define their lives.

Take, for example, 18-year-old Zack Golditch, who endured surgery and weeks of recovery so he could continue with his football career and become a repeat state discus champion. The Denver Post recently named him the winner of their Adversity Conquered through Excellence award and this fall he will begin his freshman year as an offensive lineman at CSU.

Or Marcus Weaver, who was shot twice but now hosts a weekly radio show in Denver that spotlights great Americans who are making a difference in the community. Marcus also works with his church to help people who have struggled through addiction or incarceration and now travels the country inspiring others with his story and pushing them to take charge of their lives.

These are just two of the countless examples of the perseverance of people who were affected by the Aurora shooting. Zack and Marcus's strength defines us as Americans. That is something in which we can take great pride.

It is the kind of strength we honor in remembering this tragedy now a year later. In particular, we look back and honor young men like 26-year-old Jon Blunk and 24-year-old Alexander Teves who sacrificed their lives to protect their friends. And then there were the countless police and other first responders who rushed to the scene to care for the wounded and to stop the shooter before he could injure others.

Colorado has known too many tragedies these past several years. From the Aurora theater shooting to wildfires in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and elsewhere that have threatened and destroyed entire communities and left hundreds of our friends and neighbors without homes.

We have seen the same spirit of sacrifice and resilience, as firefighters and community members have banded together to fight the Black Forest Fire, the West Fork Complex Fire and the other blazes that have threatened entire communities across Colorado this year.

This Saturday, on the 1-year anniversary of the Aurora theater shooting, let's take time to remember those we have lost and to honor the resilience of our neighbors who press on with their lives, undaunted by this terrible act.

In that spirit, I want to read into the Record the names of the twelve people who lost their lives one year ago. We must never forget these names: Matt McQuinn, Micayla Medek, Jessica Ghawi, Gordon Cowden, Jesse Childress, John Larimer, Jonathan Blunk, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, Alex Sullivan, Alexander Teves, Rebecca Wingo, and Alexander Boik.

I hope that we can draw strength from the tragic loss of those 12 wonderful, beautiful people and that it leads us to redouble our efforts to be better people--to be more understanding to our friends and more loving to our families and to aspire to live our lives with the courage that the people of Aurora and Colorado have shown over the course of this last year.

I think that the leaders here in Washington could learn from their courage. The victims of Aurora have not let setbacks stop them from achieving great things and making their community a better place to live. They, in fact, have refused to allow the word ``victim'' to define them.

Of course, we still have work to do to prevent future mass shootings. There are many commonsense steps that we can and must take to reduce senseless gun violence. But today is not a time for a policy debate. Today is a day to remember the victims, to honor the heroes from that terrible day last year, and to commit ourselves to never forgetting their memory.


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