Expressing Condolences to the Victims of the Abruzzo Earthquake
Mr. PASCRELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Speaker, just a short while ago I returned from Afghanistan. The fifth largest contingency in NATO is from Italy, so we have many reminders through history and specifically now of what our relationship is between the United States and Italy. So we rise to support this resolution, H. Res. 430, expressing our deepest sympathies to the citizens of Italy.
This earthquake was devastating, Mr. Speaker. It ruined a large part of the Abruzzo part of Italy. The magnitude of this earthquake is understood by many Americans. The university town of L'Aquila, along with 26 other surrounding cities, towns, and villages, suffered massive destruction. You already have heard of how many people were killed; 15,000 buildings destroyed. They were historic. They were cultural landmarks. Seventy thousand people were displaced. So we extend our deepest sympathies. The homes and churches can be rebuilt, but we can never replace loved ones.
Despite the aftershocks that continued to devastate the region for days after, rescue workers demonstrated true heroism by pulling over 100 survivors from the wreckage. Their efforts, along with those of humanitarian aid organizations around the globe who continue to work tirelessly to return people to their homes and rebuild the region, deserve commendation. After traveling to Italy earlier this year, I can attest to the resiliency and the strength of the Italian people. And I remind us again of the 2,350 troops that fight alongside our brave men and women in Afghanistan.
It is trying times like these that allow us to recognize the deep and binding ties between our nations, the United States of America and Italy. This tragedy only brings our two nations closer together.
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the many organizations in the United States, including the National Italian American Foundation, NIAF, who are continuously working to raise funds to aid the rebuilding efforts in Abruzzo. The Italian American community's support and solidarity with the nation of Italy has only increased in the aftermath of this natural disaster.
I also want to commend the Italian Ambassador, Giovanni Castellaneta, for his leadership and commitment to the Italian American community.
I urge my colleagues to join me in passing this resolution to offer our sincere condolences to the nation of Italy for its tremendous loss as well as pledge our continued support to the Italian Government. I will do so also this afternoon when I greet President Berlusconi.
The G-8 summit is being held July 8, 9, and 10, and that has been moved to L'Aquila in the Abruzzo region to redirect funding to that region to help with the general reconstruction. Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, of course, and our President, President Obama, will be there with our Italian friends.
I urge the passage of this legislation. I want to thank the chairman and the Speaker. I want to thank the ranking member for all of your courtesies. This is something we need to get involved in, to commend American organizations for reaching out to our brothers and sisters.