An account by the Senator E.M.Kennedy
"I remember that I was in Geneva at a conference on refugees and I svanted to see what had occurred, so I flew in to Florence for the day. I got to the library about 5 PM and I looked down into the flooded area. There was no electricity and massive candles had been set up to provide the necessary light to rescue the books.
It was terribly cold and yet I saw students up to their waists in water. They had formed a line to pass along the books so that they could be retrieved from the water and then handed on to a safer area to have preservatives put on them. Everywhere I looked in the great main reading room, there were hundreds and hundreds oi young people who had all gathered to help.
It was if they knew that this flooding of the library was putting their soul at risk. I found it incredibly inspiring to see this younger generation all united in this vital effort. It reminded me of the young people in the United States who responded with the same determination as they became involved in the civil rights movement. I was still shivering as I boarded the plane that took me back to Geneva, but I couldn't stop thinking of the impressive solemnity of that scene -- of all those students, oblivious to the biting cold and the muddy water, quietly concentrating on saving books in the flickering candlelight. I will never forget it."
Senator Edward M. Kennedy
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