- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2008


Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, was remembered yesterday at the U.S. Capitol as a humanitarian who fought for the dispossessed worldwide.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Mr. Lantos, a Democrat who served as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, “the epitome of a true American hero.”

Rock star Bono, a friend who had worked with Mr. Lantos on issues including HIV/AIDS prevention, led the hundreds of House members and senators present in a chorus of the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.”

Miss Rice and Bono were among a string of luminaries, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who delivered tributes in Statuary Hall.

“For Tom, freedom was not just an abstract ideal,” Miss Rice said.

“I can see him look at us with those piercing yet compassionate eyes and say, ‘All right, you can pause for a moment to remember me, but then you must resume the struggle,’ ” she said.

A native of Budapest, Mr. Lantos escaped Nazi labor camps as a teenager before coming to the United States.

He was 80 and serving his 14th term representing a Northern California district when he died Monday. He disclosed in January that he’d been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

During his congressional career, Mr. Lantos advocated for human rights in Sudan, Burma, China and elsewhere with a unique moral authority that earned him bipartisan respect.

In 2006, he was arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy protesting the killings in the Darfur region of Sudan. Last year, he called a hearing at which he denounced Yahoo Inc. executives as “moral pygmies” for their involvement in China’s jailing of a dissident.

“I saw him speak truth to power, to presidents, prime ministers and kings,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

Mr. Lantos’ childhood sweetheart and wife of nearly six decades, Annette, his two daughters and two of his 17 grandchildren also spoke.

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