Mr. RAMSTAD. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, the gentlewoman from Maryland (Mrs. Morella), for yielding time to me, for her assistance with this legislation, and also for her kind tribute to Tom Burnett, Jr.
I also thank my friend, the gentleman from Illinois, (Mr. Davis), for his tribute to Tom Burnett, Jr., and for his assistance with this legislation as well.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a true American hero. The legislation before us, H.R. 5207, would rename the West Bloomington, Minnesota, post office in my district in honor of Bloomington native Thomas E. Burnett, Jr., a true American hero.
I want to express my appreciation also to the chairman and my friend, the gentleman from Indiana, and my friend, the ranking member, the gentleman from California, as well as the majority leader, my friend, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Armey), for allowing this bill to come to the floor so expeditiously so that we can pass it by September 11.
Mr. Speaker, I introduced this legislation at the request of Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead and the Bloomington City Council, which unanimously passed a resolution of support.
Most of us know the story of Tom Burnett, Jr., who was on board United Flight 93 when it was hijacked by the terrorists on September 11. Tom, as the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Davis) explained, was able to reach his wife, Deena, on his cell phone and told her, ``We've got to do something. I know we are all going to die. There are three of us who are going to do something about it.'' Led by Tom Burnett, Jr., the passengers aboard United Flight 93 showed tremendous courage in taking on the evil terrorists who intended to kill as many Americans as possible. As we all know, that plane crashed in Pennsylvania, instead of hitting the terrorists' intended target of this building, the United States Capitol, according to FBI Director Mueller.
[Time: 16:00] We all owe a deep debt of gratitude to Tom Burnett, Jr., and the other brave Americans on Flight 93. Tom Burnett was not even originally scheduled to be on that fateful flight, I might add. And I will never forget the words at Tom's funeral mass of long-time Burnett family friend, Father Joe Slepicka, who said, ``Ancient history tells us God seems to call the right people in the right time and place to do the right things for the good of others.'' Mr. Speaker, God called Tom Burnett, Jr., and Tom did the right thing for the good of others.
Tom Burnett grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota, the son of Thomas and Beverly Burnett, Sr. He was the quarterback of the Thomas Jefferson High School football team and led his team to the State championship game in 1980. Tom married Deena in 1992 and they have three beautiful children, Madison, Halley and Anna-Clair. Tom was also a highly successful business executive and had many other credits to his name.
Mr. Speaker, Tom Burnett, Jr., will always be remembered both as a great and a good man who loved his family and loved America. As Tom, Sr., said, ``There weren't many shades of gray in Tommy. He was loyal to his country and loyal to his family and he knew right from wrong.'' The people of Bloomington, Minnesota, Tom Burnett's hometown, have honored Tom's memory in several lasting ways. On the Friday after the September 11 attacks, the Bloomington Jefferson High School football team wore Tom's number 10 on their helmets. On this coming Thursday at Bloomington Stadium when Jefferson plays crosstown rival Bloomington Kennedy, Tom's jersey number will be retired. A memorial scholarship fund has been established in Tom Burnett's honor, and a collection of Tom's favorite books was placed in his former high school's media center. A white oak tree was planted in Tom Burnett's honor in front of his home church, St. Edward's Catholic Church in Bloomington, where Tom was confirmed and where his funeral was held.
A large fieldstone was placed in front of the tree with the words from the Book of John, Chapter 15, verse 13, ``There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friend.'' Mr. Speaker, that says it all about Tom Burnett, Jr.
Tom's ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten by his family, his community and his grateful Nation. Tom Burnett, Sr., fondly remembers a conversation with his son on the 50th anniversary of the D-day invasion in France when Tom, Jr., prophetically wondered out loud whether he, Tom Burnett, Jr., would have had the same level of courage those soldiers had during the invasion of Normandy Beach. On September 11, Tom, Jr., was tested and he certainly showed that level of courage, courage that inspires all of us today, courage of an American hero.
Our Nation owes a deep debt of gratitude for Tom Burnett's bravery on September 11. Naming a post office in Tom Burnett's hometown in Bloomington, Minnesota is one meaningful and lasting way Congress and the President can honor his heroism and his memory. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important legislation to rename the West Bloomington Post Office the Thomas E. Burnett, Jr. Post Office.