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Paul T.
Democrat NY 20

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  • Commemorating the Life of Mario Cuomo

    by Representative Paul Tonko

    Posted on 2015-01-12

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    TONKO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Queens, State of New York, for the opportunity to share some thoughts here this evening with our leader, Nancy Pelosi, and members of the New York delegation, as we pay tribute to the life of Mario Matthew Cuomo, the greatest of Governors in New York, and certainly a true [[Page H213]] statesman, a bold and great individual, a humble giant, and a roaring voice, a lion voice for social, economic, and environmental justice.

    This evening, what I recall about the life of Mario Cuomo is that as I entered the New York State Assembly in 1983, that was the same year that he entered into the office of Governor, and for my first 12 years of service in the New York State Assembly, it was guided and nurtured and impacted by the strength and the passion of Mario Cuomo.

    {time} 2015 The walk with him and with Matilda Raffa Cuomo as a first couple of New York was a joyous one but a challenging one to pay tribute to the greatness, the foundation of family, and the passion of immigrants. Those two guiding dynamics drove the principles, the integrity, and the message of Mario Cuomo.

    As a member of his upstate cabinet informing and alerting the Governor to various strengths, vitalities, contributions, and history of upstate New York, we were able to connect in a very meaningful way; the work with him very deliberate and very challenging. I will forever be grateful for the learning curve that was developed by working alongside this person of greatness.

    I think, also, we need to understand that, as his son Governor Andrew Cuomo eulogized at his funeral service, he made mention very deliberately, Mario Cuomo would not offer, render his words of speeches to an audience telling them what they choose to hear but, rather, what he needed to share. That, I think, speaks to the humble greatness of this individual, one who had a vision not only for his State, but for his country and, for that matter, the world.

    I was also touched by the Governor's sharing about his dad, the eloquence of his speech, the eloquence of his speaking, his public speaking that reached so many people throughout the world. He talked about those words and put it into an analogy of a fine bit of jewelry where each word seen as a gem would be deliberately chosen, strategically placed, and majestically clustered in a way where that array would reach our senses, would speak to our senses about what is correct, what is socially just and morally sound. That is true leadership. And it is no wonder through that speech in San Francisco that he lit within the minds, hearts, and souls of Americans the best within us, how we could assume this level of greatness by understanding that we are at our best when we incorporate in an inclusive set of principles in our world of politics.

    Mario Cuomo impacted all of us, myself included, by his reverence for his parents' journey as immigrants. That journey, which was a pathway to freedom, that journey which settled into a grocery story, a corner grocery store, became the pulse of the American Dream for his family that was tethered into this country called the United States of America. He never forgot that. He revered it. He was guided by it. The light that he brought to his field of politics was immense, and it was driven by fairness and inclusion.

    So this evening, it is an honor to join with my colleagues to speak to a humble man, a great individual, who, with his wife alongside him, Matilda, brought to this State of New York a sense of hope when there was despair.

    As was said at the funeral, he will continue to live. His voice may have been silenced, but his integrity, his spirit, and his principles will long live in the lives of those who struggle and reach to America, to her government, for a better tomorrow.

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