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  • Commemorating the Life of Mario Cuomo

    by Senator Nancy Pelosi

    Posted on 2015-01-12

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    PELOSI. I thank the gentleman for yielding.



    I thank the distinguished member and longest-serving member--I don't want to say ``senior member''--in the New York delegation for getting us off to a start to sing the praises of Mario Cuomo. It is my honor to join the New York delegation. I feel honored to do so. Four of our children were born in New York, so that gives me some standing on the subject.

    Mr. Speaker, I come to the floor to join the New York delegation in paying tribute to the memory of Governor Mario Cuomo. I am reminded of Ecclesiasticus. We all know this, but just think of how appropriate it is for Mario Cuomo.

    In Ecclesiasticus, it says: Now let us praise great men, the heroes of our Nation.

    They led the people by their counsel and their knowledge of the laws. From their font of wisdom, they gave instruction.

    These are godly men whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten. Their wealth is their descendants, and their inheritance is their children's children. Their bodies are buried in peace, and their names will live forever.

    The people will tell of their wisdom, and the congregation will continue to sing their praise.

    Does that remind you of Mario Cuomo? Is that perfectly appropriate for him? Surely, those words apply to the life and legacy of our great departed friend, Mario.

    As a fellow Italian American, I have always taken great pride in his leadership. As a San Franciscan who hosted the Democratic Convention, we in California had some kind of claim on Mario Cuomo because of the great speech that he made at that convention which Mr. Rangel referenced, but my observing of his greatness goes farther back than that.

    It was during a trip to Italy that we were invited by President Carter in 1980 to bring the sympathy and support of the American people to Italy at the time of the earthquake, when they lost 2,700 lives and which left 265,000 people homeless. I mention that because we went by helicopter from village to village to village. Villages were devastated.

    Mario Cuomo, here was this person who had such a large spirit and a good soul, who could sympathize with these people in English and Italian. For example, in a village where a First Communion class was rehearsing for First Communion, all of the 7-year-olds in that village were in that church when the earthquake hit. The roof came down, and every 7-year-old in the village was lost.

    Imagine the grief of those individual families and of that community to lose those children, but as you would expect, he was up to the task, knowing that words were completely inadequate and that no sympathy could meet the pain that they were feeling; nonetheless, there was this beautiful, sympathetic man identifying with these people from a region from which his family had come in southern Italy.

    Mario Cuomo was a pillar of strength through his community, his State, and our Nation. His values, his vision, and his effectiveness for the people of New York were an inspiration around the world. He was a man of principle and eloquence--that was good--and all the world saw, again, that manifested in the ``shining city on a hill'' speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention.

    With those soaring words, Governor Cuomo summoned the best of America and called us to empower the working people and middle class families who are the backbone of our Nation. He asked us to remember how futures are built. We know Mario Cuomo's language and leadership will echo through the ages just as vital, just as urgent, just as energizing as his words were that day.

    In word and deed, Governor Cuomo challenged us to make real the American Dream. He had it for his family. He wanted it for everyone else, for all who strived to realize it, and opened the doors of opportunity for every American family.

    Family meant everything to him. He was a proud Governor of New York for three terms, but his proudest achievement was his beautiful family. No one could miss the pride and inspiration he found in his immigrant parents and how he talked about them so beautifully or in his boundless dedication to Matilda and his children.

    Our country has lost a great leader, but his family has lost a devoted husband to his wife of over 60 years, to Matilda. He was a loving father to five children--Margaret, Andrew, Maria, Madeline, and Christopher--and was a doting grandfather to some really lovely grandchildren.

    My husband, Paul, and I and our entire family are heartbroken. We are really heartbroken by his passing, and we continue to extend our deepest sympathy and love to Matilda and their family.

    I hope it is a comfort to them that so many people in their own State, in the country, and, really, throughout the world mourn their loss and continue to pray for them and continue to be inspired by this great man.

    As Ecclesiasticus says: People will tell of his wisdom, and the congregation will continue to sing his praise.

    I thank Mr. Crowley for yielding. I thank him for bringing us together to sing the praises of Mario Cuomo.

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