Mr. President, I rise to share my deepest sympathies for the people of Norway who, as my colleagues know, experienced a despicable terrorist act this past Friday, July 22.
In the Senate, I represent the State of Minnesota. It is a State that has the largest number of people of Norwegian heritage outside the country of Norway itself.
The influence of Norwegian culture can be found throughout our State, and the bonds between Norway and Minnesota continue to be incredibly strong to this day. That is why the shock of Friday's violence hit us so close to home.
This past weekend, I joined Minnesotans and the whole world in offering our country's prayers and sympathy to the people of Norway. I attended a memorial service at the Mindekirke Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis, where hundreds of people of Norwegian heritage gathered to go to mourn their loss.
It is especially heartbreaking that a mass murder such as this would take place in a country such as Norway. The world knows Norway as a country that is both peaceful and peace-seeking.
After all, Norway is home to the Nobel Peace Prize, and it has offered safe haven to refugees and the politically persecuted from all around the world. It just doesn't make sense.
I am a parent. My daughter is the same age as many of the young people who were at that camp. She was there with our family at the memorial service on Sunday. The kids at this camp were idealistic kids. They were teenagers. They were at the camp because of their interest in their community and in democracy.
It is very hard and very painful even to think about such a cold-blooded attack and the massacre of so many innocent children. It is a kind of terrible tragedy that puts all of us to the test. It tests our resilience, our trust, and our faith.
On Saturday morning, I spoke with Ambassador Strommen, Norway's Ambassador to the United States. I conveyed the deepest sympathies of the people of our State. He assured me that, even though this is a very difficult time, Norway is strong, the Norwegian people are strong, and they will make it through this time of trouble and sorrow.
We will stand by them. But we will also stand against the hate that inspired this action. We are starting to get a sense, over the last 2 days, of what motivated this madman. We know now that while most of the people attacked were native Norwegians, there were also people from other countries, immigrants to Norway, new citizens there.
We all need to remember that my State was originally settled by Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, and Germans, but we also remember there were other waves of immigrants who came too, including Slovenians, such as my relatives, as well as people from Poland, Russia, and most recently in Minnesota the Hmong people have a major presence, as well as people from Somalia. We must remember what made our State, our country, and Norway such vibrant places for democracy is that openness, that freedom, and it is that tolerance.
I reminded my friends at the Norwegian church on Sunday morning of something President Clinton actually said after the Oklahoma City bombing, when he spoke at that memorial. He said this:
Let us let our own children know that we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it.
I call on my colleagues to stand true to those words. We will continue to confront the forces of fear and hatred with that same spirit of faith, tolerance, and good will. Let us continue to stand strong in support of our allies and friends in Norway. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with them.
The Senator from Arizona.
Mr. President, let me associate myself with the remarks of the Senator from Minnesota. My wife and I traveled to Oslo, Norway, a few years ago and were deeply touched by the hospitality of the people there and the peacefulness of the country. It is almost too much to bear to think about what they have gone through as a result of this recent tragedy. I appreciate her remarks.
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