Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Sen. Kaufman, on floor, Honors Ultimate Sacrifice in Public Service

July 7, 2009

Mr. KAUFMAN. Mr. President, I rise once again to speak about the vital role our Federal employees play in keeping America safe, prosperous, and free.

Just days ago, on the Fourth of July, we celebrated the 233rd anniversary of our independence. For 233 years, ordinary Americans have chosen to give their energy, their time, and their talents in service to our government. Many have given their lives.

All Federal employees, as I have said previously, are bound together by a shared sense of duty and willingness to sacrifice.

When the Founders added their signatures to the Declaration of Independence, they did so with faith in their fellow Americans--that the 56 names inked on that parchment were joined in spirit by millions of others in their own day and for generations to come.

They knew that building a nation requires more than a handful of men.

It entails the active participation of citizens from all walks of life.

This is why, a decade later, when the Framers assembled in Philadelphia to draft our Constitution, they did so with an expectation that regular citizens would be the form and substance of our government.

Indeed, they knew firsthand the value of service above self. This virtue would lead countless Americans who had fought for freedom to become the first generation of Federal employees.

The Founders and Framers had good cause to predict such participation among citizens beyond their appointed role as electors and jurors. The classical history and writings that influenced them are filled with praise for the values of duty and sacrifice that inspire public service.

Many educated Americans in 1776 were familiar with the story of Horatius the Roman.

When the armies of a tyrant approached the walls of Rome, the citizens of its infant republic were called to arms.

Horatius ran across the last bridge spanning the Tiber River where he alone held off the enemy as his compatriots destroyed the bridge behind him. With this personal act of courage, he prevented the capture of Rome.

Horatius was not a professional soldier. He was neither an elected leader nor a man of high birth.

But he defended with pride that title of honor greater than any other--citizen. He gave his life so that others could remain free.

His act is an example of the kind of sacrifices that ordinary citizens are willing to make when they know freedom is in jeopardy.

Americans looked to classical figures like Horatius in 1776, when their own liberty was uncertain.

It is this common willingness to risk safety and personal gain that sets apart a commonwealth of citizens from a nation of subjects.

It is these same qualities that make our Federal employees so worthy of praise.

On the Fourth of July, I thought about ordinary Americans who choose to serve their country in often perilous situations. Many of them risk harm while defending the liberty and values that infuse our citizenship with meaning.

As I have said before, our Federal employees exemplify the American value of service above self.

Throughout our history, Federal employees have traveled to dangerous corners of the globe, in order to represent the American people abroad, promote peaceful international cooperation, and provide aid to those in need.

John Granville was one of those who felt called to serve his country, even if it meant traveling to places where his own safety was uncertain.

A native of Orchard Park, NY, near Buffalo, John studied at Fordham and Clark Universities before joining the Peace Corps. His service in the Corps took him to Cameroon, in West Africa, from 1997 to 1999.

While there, he applied for and received a Fulbright fellowship to continue living in that country and conduct research on its society and development.

John, committed to serving his country and helping others, then joined the Foreign Service.

He worked for the U.S. Agencywfor International Development--or USAID--in Kenya before heading to Sudan in 2005.

It was a dangerous assignment. That year, the Sudanese Government signed a cease-fire to end a long civil war in that country's south. John's assignment was to distribute 75,000 radios to rural villagers.

These radios could be powered by the Sun or by handcrank.

With democratic elections approaching, these radios would give the local Sudanese access to uncensored international news broadcasts.

As a former member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, I can attest to the importance of providing access to free and uncensored news. It is a vital part of developing democratic culture and press freedom. It also promotes hope and understanding, which help deter the spread of extremist views.

John worked with a dedicated team of USAID officials to distribute these radios and other aid to rural south Sudanese. One of his coworkers later said that John was ``the glue'' that held their group together and that he kept up their spirits throughout the mission.

On New Year's Day, 2008, John was gunned down by four militants who targeted his car for its diplomatic plates. He was only 33 years old.

His loved ones back home remembered him as an ``unselfish humanitarian,'' a ``consummate professional,'' and someone who ``worked with energy and imagination.'' John was an active member of the St. John Vianney Church community, and he was a mentor who inspired others to follow in his footsteps by helping those in need.

John Granville believed in the importance of service as part of citizenship.

He crossed the ocean and stood on the other side, like the Roman Horatius at the far end of the bridge, carrying out the people's work and risking his own safety in service to his Nation.

He had told his mother on several occasions that despite the danger of his work, he would not want to be doing anything else.

There are thousands of Foreign Service officers, USAID workers, and journalists and employees with the Broadcasting Board of Governors all over the globe.

These dedicated men and women leave behind family, friends, and communities. Their careers often take them through dangerous parts of the world, where the threat from crime, disease, war, and terrorism is very real.

All too frequently their sacrifices and achievements go unrecognized. On occasion, they make the ultimate sacrifice.

Because we just celebrated the Fourth of July, let me return for a moment to the founding generation.

Those first Americans who sacrificed for liberty established more than our Republic. They left us with a democratic legacy that reminds us everyday of our rights and our duties as equal citizens.

The descendents of those revolutionaries, when they designed and ornamented this magnificent Capitol, enshrined a powerful message. The paintings in the Capitol Rotunda, just steps from here, narrate the story of how America achieved its greatness.

They tell not of the force of arms or the achievements of a powerful few. Rather, taken as a whole, these eight paintings celebrate the evolution of American citizenship.

The turning point in this narrative is highlighted by Trumbull's iconic portrayal of the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

But the last painting in the cycle is the most poignant and recalls the climactic movement in the development of our citizenship.

Washington, at his height of popularity, willingly yields his power and authority back to the people by resigning his commission.

With his sacrifice in that moment, the American people were truly free, and those who laid out this cycle of paintings did so to acclaim this birth of American citizenship.

They remind us that our citizenship is a pact between equals, that no American should ever rule arbitrarily over another.

It is this notion of citizenship that governs the relationship between the American people and our Federal employees.

As a commonwealth of citizens, we entrust our fellow Americans who work in the Federal Government to perform that noble task so yearned for by the 56 men who wrote and signed the Declaration.

They secure our unalienable rights by constituting a government deriving its ``just powers from the consent of the governed.''

Their hard work and their sacrifices protect our lives, preserve our liberty, and enable all Americans to pursue happiness.

I call on my colleagues to join me in honoring and recognizing the immeasurable sacrifice made by John Granville and all civilian Federal employees who gave their lives in service to our Nation.

Their names will forever be inscribed on the eternal Declaration that continually secures our freedom. 

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