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Harry R.
Democrat NV

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  • Nomination of Anne W. Patterson to Be an Assistant Secretary of State

    by Senator Harry Reid

    Posted on 2013-12-11

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    REID. Mr. President, it seems hard to believe that tomorrow will be the anniversary of the deaths of 20 little boys and girls in Newtown, CT. Not only those little boys and girls, but six educators, whose lives were taken by an unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.



    Their names are Allison, Avielle, Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Noah, Jack, Emilie, Caroline, Jessica, and Benjamin.

    These little boys and girls were 6 and 7 years old. They were murdered. Although their years were few, their lives have touched and will continue to touch us all.

    As it did a year ago, my heart goes out to the families of these little angels, and to all those affected by this tragedy. I honor the ultimate sacrifice of Victoria Soto, Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel Davino, and Anne Marie Murphy--teachers and educators who died trying to safeguard the children in their care.

    These six educators devoted their lives to teaching Newtown's children how to read and write, how to add and subtract, how to be good boys and girls, and how to grow into good men and women. They gave their lives to keep those children safe. They are a source of hope in a world that sometimes seems hopeless.

    It is hard to comprehend the type of tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook, let alone to recover from it. But I am inspired by the families in this community who have found purpose in the face of despair.

    There is a Tibetan saying that says, ``Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.'' The Dalai Lama says that whatever trouble you have experienced, and however deep your heartbreak, ``If we lose our hope, that's our real disaster.'' The families of Newtown have channeled their pain into activism, raising awareness about gun violence and mental health issues in this country.

    I have met with them on a number of occasions, and their bravery in the face of such pain is truly an inspiration not only to me but to all of us.

    I am proud of how hard my caucus fought this year to pass safeguards that would keep guns out of the hands of felons and people with severe mental illness. That is why 85 percent of the American people agree with us. Why should someone who has a severe mental illness or someone who is a criminal be able to purchase a gun? They shouldn't. Those who are trying to stop that legislation from going forward should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves.

    I personally am happy with my vote to keep military-style weapons off the streets and to improve our mental safety. But at a time when more than 30,000 Americans are killed by guns each year, it is shameful that the Senate can't pass gun safety legislation that would protect our most vulnerable citizens--our kids, our children, our babies.

    So I told the families of the 26 innocents killed a year ago in Newton, and the 173 children killed by guns since December 14, 2012, that Senate Democrats will not give up on them, and that is still the fact. We will not give up on the victims of 26 school shootings that occurred since the Newtown massacre, including one in Sparks, NV, where a young man came with a gun. Who stepped forward to save the children? A teacher. He was killed. Two [[Page S8800]] others were injured in that assault. I will not give up on the families and friends of those gunned down at a movie theater in Colorado, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, a shopping mall in Oregon, and every day on the streets of America's cities.

    Last December I promised the families a meaningful conversation about how to change America's culture of violence. I want everyone within the sound of my voice to know that the conversation is not over.

    The American people will prevail on this issue. When 85 percent of the American people believe in an issue--when 85 percent of the American people believe in not only an issue but in a quest, in fairness, it is going to happen. It is only a question of when it happens.

    I urge the families and friends of those killed in Newtown to never lose hope. Never lose hope.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.

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