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Pelosi Floor Speech on Tragic Loss of Life in Oklahoma

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor today to commemorate the lives lost and commend the heroism of teachers and first responders in the aftermath of the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.  Below are her remarks:

“Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise today to extend sympathy to the people of Oklahoma.  To our colleague, Congressman Cole, for his, and his constituents, who have been affected by the tornado.  We just heard our President talk about, just that our prayers and our deeds are with the people of the community.

“We just heard Mr. Larson talk about our acting immediately to provide the assistance to the people there, to the extent that Congress can act quickly upon that, we should.  It is – we’ve seen natural disasters come and go, and they are all terrible, and the loss of life is tragic, and the loss of belongings and the rest is saddening.  And It’s very hard to see how people can be made whole, but we are always hopeful that they will be.  As that hope springs, as people say: ‘where do you find hope in a situation like that?’  Well, it sits there comfortably between faith; we believe, and therefore we have hope in the charity of others, that we can work together to come through this.

“Referencing other – whether it’s earthquakes in California, or storms in the northeast, whatever it happens to be, a hurricane in the south, and Katrina, etcetera – it’s always, always, always tragic.  There is something especially, deeply saddening about what happened in Oklahoma City.  And it reminded me immediately of something that I carry in my heart.  A long time ago, I went to Italy, as representative of President Carter in 1980 with a – it was a congressional delegation bus, to deliver U.S. assistance following an earthquake in southern Italy. 

“In one small town in a mountain that we visited, the roof of the church collapsed.  And what was tragic about it, that resembles what happened in Oklahoma is, that in that church that day was the first grade, and they were practicing for first Holy Communion.  So, every seven-year-old child in that village was a casualty.  Everyone died.  And so, when there is loss of life, of course, it’s always tragic – every one is a valuable of life, but when the entire, every seven-year-old in the village dies, it just does something to your psyche.  It’s so sad.  You grieve so deeply.  It’s so hard to console people.  And to see what happened to the schools in Oklahoma City, and to see that 20 little children lost their lives, each one of them precious, all of them the future of the community, how deep the grief must be there.  All – we must, in a very particular way, try to help, wipe the tears away from that community – so many little children. 

“And beautiful sight to see, the first responders trying to dig people out – and successfully – the picture today of a beautiful little boy pulled out from the rubble, the teachers making a valiant effort to cover the children so that a falling debris did not harm those who were still, still alive.  And so, whether it was first responders, or teachers, or families, the community, community coming together.  This community has suffered a great loss: loss of lives, horrible; loss of homes to this – what was a home became debris in a matter of seconds, in a matter of minutes.

“And so, I hope that we all know what our responsibility is because these children are America’s children.  And that the number of them who died had such an impact on the community, and that we all appreciate the depth of the grief, the depth of the tragedy that has befallen.  I’ll never, ever forget the look in the eyes of the people in that village in the mountains of Italy – just desperate, just desperate.   And as I say, we are always hopeful, that through prayer, which gives us strength, faith, which gives us hope, the charity of others, which helps us to go forward.

“So, I hope it is a comfort to the people of the region, that their loss is one that is shared, and mourned, by people across the world, certainly in our country, and definitely in this Congress of the United States.  Whatever it is in our power to be helpful to them, we will do, and we will do quickly.  And that most importantly, they will always, always, always, and ever, be in our prayers.

“With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back my time.”