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National

Texas Plant Explosion Memorial Focuses On First Responders

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

After attending the Bush library opening, President Obama flew to Waco, Texas, there he attended a memorial service for the victims of last week's fertilizer plant explosion. Fourteen people were killed in that disaster in the small town of West; 10 of them were firefighters, two were paramedics. Today's service focused on those first responders.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Before the memorial, bagpipes led a procession of some 4,000 firefighters through Waco. Hundreds of emergency vehicles rolled through the city slowly, lights flashing, many of them draped with black bolts of fabric.

SIEGEL: Inside the Ferrell Center at Baylor University, 12 caskets were lined up in front of the stage, each draped with an American or Texas state flag. Pictures of the fallen and their families flashed on a big screen. And after a prayer, Texas Governor Rick Perry praised the men who gave their lives to protect their community, noting that they were volunteer firemen.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: We will never forget what happened here nor forget the sacrifices of those who first responded. God bless you. And through you, may God continue to bless the great state of Texas. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CORNISH: In his remarks, President Obama also acknowledged the sacrifice of those killed, and he referenced heart-wrenching video tributes made by the families of the victims.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I cannot match the power of the voices you just heard on that video. And no words adequately describe the courage that was displayed on that deadly night. What I can do is offer the love and support and prayers of the nation.

SIEGEL: President Obama speaking in Texas today at the memorial for those killed in the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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