September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Congressional Record House Caring for the Orphans of the Terrorist Attacks; October 30, 2001

CARING FOR THE ORPHANS OF THE TERRORIST ATTACKS -- (House of Representatives - October 30, 2001)

[Page: H7391]


The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. PLATTS). Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, on September 11 Americans witnessed carnage and harrowing images that will be imprinted forever in our memory. These acts of terror helped Americans grow stronger. But as we pull together to rebuild our Nation and work toward a heightened sense of security to restore our lives, we must not forget the thousands of children who lost a parent or a guardian in the September 11 attacks. All the money and all the services in the world could never replace the loss of their loved ones, but although money cannot heal their scars, the passage of House Con. Resolution 228 can help begin to bandage their deep wounds.

I am a proud original co-sponsor of H. Con. Res. 228, a resolution which calls for the immediate benefits for children who lost one or both parents or guardians in the multiple tragedies. This legislation, which is being spearheaded by my friend, the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. JACKSON-LEE), will ensure the children of September 11 attacks will receive foster care, medical assistance and psychological services, all of which they so desperately need.

As co-chair of the Congressional Children's Caucus, the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. JACKSON-LEE) and I recently held a briefing to discuss the need to prioritize Federal services and benefits for these children. Ron Houle of the American Red Cross, Dr. Bernard Arons from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Cindy Friedmutter of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York were among the many speakers who informed us on their ability to deliver services to these children.

But most touching of all was the testimony of Merino Calderon and two of his children, Naomi, 4 years old and Nephtali, who is 20 months old. Their children were with us that day. And Merino, a school bus driver lost his beloved wife. His two children lost obviously their mother at the World Trade Center. Merino shared with us the difficulty of having to answer to his children every day the questions that they pose to him: ``When is mommy coming back? When is she taking us to the park again?''

He is emotionally exhausted and his financial situation is increasingly difficult. But, Mr. Speaker, Merino Calderon is one of the fortunate ones because his daughter is receiving counseling, as he is as well. But his loving church and his loving church family have many other church-goers who have not had the ability to get this assistance. Many surviving family members and particularly children of the September 11 attack have yet to receive the benefits they need.

Children who lost a parent or a guardian in this national tragedy need psychological and other services right now. So I ask my colleagues to co-sponsor and work towards passage of H. Con. Res. 228 because, although we will remember September 11, it is for the children for whom we will pass this bill because we will not forget them and we will not forget the sacrifices that their parents have made for our country.


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