We didn't know Congressman Lantos well, and we didn't agree with many of his political positions, but we certainly admired his leadership on human rights issues. He was one of the few in his party, indeed, all of Congress, to decry human rights abuses in North Korea, the Middle East, Cuba, China--around the world.
Our interest in history and Holocaust history in particular made us admire his personal story as a Holocaust survivor. He was one of the many saved by Raoul Wallenberg.
He was a staunch defender of Israel--a position we share. He was also one of the few who was consistently critical of Saddam Hussein and did not, once he was out of power and executed, forget Saddam's atrocities.
A friend of ours interned with Congressman Lantos and knew him to be honorable and principled. When we were involved with the Sutdent Campaign for Child Survival, we attended a conference at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Congressman Lantos was the featured speaker to a relatively small, intimate group of student activists. We asked him questions during the Q&A and briefly spoke with him afterward. We found him to be kind and gracious and patient in answering our questions. We found the following excerpt from a report on the first SCCS conference:
Our very first speaker, Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), updated us on child survival and the Millennium Challenge Account. He then gave us tips on how we could be more effective and pledged his own supporting leadership for Child Survival.He followed through on his pledge. We're sorry to see him go and send our deepest condolences to his family and all who knew him. Representative Tom Lantos, RIP.
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