Commemorating the Life of Mario Cuomoby Representative José E. Serrano
Posted on 2015-01-12
SERRANO asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. SERRANO. I thank my colleague, Mr. Crowley.
This week in 1975, I became a member of the New York State Assembly. This week in 1975, Mario Cuomo became secretary of state. I left to come to Congress in 1990, so I am fortunate to have served in the legislature 16 of the 20 years that he served in the executive branch.
And in 1983, when I became chairman of the Education Committee, I really got to know him and to speak to him and to understand what everyone that has spoken has already said. Above all, this man never forgot, and he understood how important it was for him to be the son of an immigrant family. So he wanted everyone else to have the same opportunity.
Yes, he was eloquent. Yes, he had to be a great human being--after all, he was a minor league baseball player and was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates, I believe, to play ball, that alone makes him a great guy. But he was an eloquent man who also remembered his humble beginnings in the grocery store, having to work to get through law school, to be able to understand.
So when I stood in front of him as one who had been born an American citizen--but a lot of people forgot along the way that we were and treated us in a different way--he understood. There was that simpatico that he had with him, where he understood where we came from and what we needed. And I am just so honored to have served all those years with Mario Cuomo and to have considered him a friend.
When I went to his funeral, Matilda was just so gracious because she wrote a book once where she asked people to write about who had influenced them. And I wrote about a certain gentleman in the Bronx who had played major role in my starting my public career. And she remembered that.
And I, once again, offer my condolences to the Cuomo family.
But we should not feel sorry that he is gone. We have been blessed with the fact that he lived among us. And for me, 16 of those 20 years, I learned so much from him, and hopefully I was able to help him along the way at times too.