Mr. President, I rise today to give my first speech from the floor of the United States Senate.
I rise with a heart heavy with mourning, but I also rise with the gratitude of a fearless people – gratitude for the nation’s prayers, strength, and resolve.
Two days ago, there was a cowardly and despicable terrorist attack in the city of Boston. Two times, blasts from hidden bombs rocked the streets of Copley Square. Two times, courageous Bostonians ran toward danger to help their fellow citizens. Three were killed. More than one hundred and seventy were wounded. Many remain in critical condition.
Two days ago was Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts.
Patriots’ Day is one of our most deeply cherished holidays. We celebrate the lives of ordinary men and women, who in “the hour of darkness and peril and need,” rose before dawn in Lexington and Concord, and let the world know that liberty and freedom, a government of the people, would be established on this Earth.
We celebrate Patriots’ Day with reenactments and pancake breakfasts, with barbecues and baseball, and with the Boston Marathon.
The Marathon is always a greatest of celebrations. We love the speed of the winners. We love the endurance of the participants. We love the passion of the supporters.
But as the scripture says, “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong … but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
To all the families who lost their children; to all those who were injured and wear the scars of tragedy; to all the citizen-heroes, the first responders, the healers, who acted with courage in the midst of chaos; to all those who bore witness at Boylston Street; and to the people of Boston and of Massachusetts: No one can replace what we have lost. No one can relieve the weight of our sorrow.
But here today, and in the days and weeks ahead, wherever we are, we will grieve together, hurt together, and pray together.
And so today, I rise to remember the lives of those we have lost, to support those who survived, and to honor those who served.
Today, we remember Martin Richard, an eight-year old who, like third graders everywhere, spent time drawing pictures. A little boy who loved to play soccer, hockey, and baseball in his neighborhood in Dorchester. We also pray for his sister and mother to recover from their injuries.
We remember Krystle Campbell, who grew up in Medford and never missed the Marathon. Lively and happy, Krystle was always there for others. When her grandmother was recovering from an operation, Krystle moved in to help care for her, because that’s the kind of young woman she was.
We remember Lu Lingzi, who came to the United States from China to study statistics. She loved Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, and she posted to her friends that morning that she had a wonderful breakfast. Her passing unites the world in our common humanity.
We will miss them.
To those who were injured on fifteenth of April, know that we are here for you.
Every year during the Marathon, we are one family. We cheer for each other, and we carry each other across finish lines. When tragedy strikes, we are also one family. We hurt together, and we help together.
In the weeks and months ahead, your struggles will be our struggles, your pain our pain, your efforts our efforts. We will be together through sorrow and anger, rehabilitation and recovery. We will be together because we are one family.
And to those who served, we honor you.
In ancient times, the heroes of myth and legend were part-mortal, part-God, for it was thought that no mortal man or woman could be truly great.
This week, the people of Boston and the people of this country proved the ancients wrong. Our heroes are our friends and our neighbors, they work in Copley and at Children’s, and when they were called to act – they answered.
There was the man in a cowboy hat, who came to Copley to hand out American flags in memory of his sons. When the bombs went off, he raced to help a young man who lost both his legs, applying a makeshift tourniquet, lifting the man into a wheelchair, and navigating him through the chaos and crowd so he could get medical attention.
There was the man who realized that spectators would be trapped by the barricades, and started to remove them, only to be hit by the second blast. Bandaged and burned, he told me yesterday that he was glad, not because he lived, but because he helped.
There were the marathoners who ran past the finish line to Mass General, unconcerned with their own sweat and tears, but resolved to donate their blood.
There were brave firefighters, police officers, EMS, and Guard, coordinating the first response and bringing protection in the wake of peril.
There were world-class hospitals, doctors and nurses and support staff, who refused to accept fatigue and worked through the night.
There were friends, strangers, neighbors, and shopkeepers, who gave a home to those who were stranded, food to those who were hungry, and comfort to all who needed it.
And across this nation, whether on Facebook or people finder, on Monday, the whole country was connected to Boston.
Our city, our Commonwealth, and our country have been through a grim ordeal. We have seen terror before. But we will not be afraid, and we will not let it change us. Bostonians are tough. We are fighters – and we will not be broken.
Yesterday, I met a woman recovering in the hospital. Badly injured, clearly in pain, she focused on getting back to work. She said people counted on her, so she would be back soon.
That is the strength and resilience of Boston. Our spirit is indomitable, our will is unyielding. Our Governor and our Mayor have demonstrated unwavering resolve. The men and women of law enforcement are hard at work. And in the coming hours, days, and weeks, when we learn more from the investigations, we will identify whoever did this – and we will bring them to justice.
In times of calamity, in times like these, we remember the words of John Winthrop, who counseled the founders of Boston:
“to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man. … We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together…. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”
May God bless those who have gone and leave them at peace. May He support those who survive and help them carry forward. May He protect those who serve their fellow man. And may He always watch over the people of Boston, of Massachusetts, and of the United States of America.