Mr. President, I rise today 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, and it is a state that has the largest number of people of Norwegian heritage outside of the country of Norway. 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 the memorial service at a Norwegian Lutheran Memorial church—where hundreds gathered to mourn the loss.
It is especially heartbreaking that a mass murder like this would take place in a country like Norway. The world knows Norway as a country that is both peaceful and peace-seeking. After all, Norway is home to both the Nobel Peace Prize and it has offered safe have to refugees and the politically persecuted from all around the world. It just doesn’t make sense. I am parent. My daughter is the same age as many of the young people that were at that camp and she was there with our family at the memorial service on Sunday. These kids at this camp were idealistic kids. They were teenagers. They were at that 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 the kind of terrible tragedy that puts all of us to a test. It tests our resilience, our trust, and our faith. On Saturday morning I spoke with Ambassador Stroman, 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, that Norway is strong, the Norwegian people are strong and they will make it through this time of sorrow. And we will stand by them.
But we will also stand up against the hate that inspired this action. We are starting to get—we are starting to get a sense of what motivated this madman, and 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 to Norway. We all need to remember—and I say this as a state that was settled originally by Norwegians and Swedes and Danes and Germans, but there were other ways that people came to our state, including the Slovenians as well as people from Poland and Russia and the Hmong people have a major presence in our state as well as people from Somalia. What has made our state, we remember, and our country and countries like Norway such vibrant places for democracy is that openness. It’s that freedom. It’s that tolerance.
And I reminded my friends at the Norwegian church—at the Norwegian church of something President Clinton said, he said: “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.” And I call on my colleagues today to stand true to those words, and we will all continue to confront the forces of fear and hatred with that same spirit of faith, of tolerance, and goodwill. Let us continue to stand strong in support of our allies and friends in Norway today. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Thank you, Mr. President, and I yield the floor.