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Memoriam: Hon. Peter W. Rodino Jr.
Can you think of a hero, someone worthy of being called a
positive role model, from NJ, and in politics ? Congressman Rodino fits the
bill in my book. He was not a pretentious man, though short in physical
stature, he was a giant in many respects. He served NJ and this
nation in exemplary fashion for 20 terms in Congress.
A son of working class immigrant Italians, he attended Newark
public schools, fought in North Africa against the NAZIS during W.W.II and
when he came home he worked his way through school at night, to get
his law degree from Rutgers. During those hard years he was a novelist,
sold songs, insurance, and worked in a factory before finally being elected
to Congress in 1948.
As Acting NJ Governor Codey said of him; Rodino "spent his whole
life fighting for people's rights... he was unafraid to take on the tough
battles for citizens of our country." (Star-Ledger 05-08-05)
Although he is mainly remembered for his role in the Watergate
hearings, Congressman Rodino's legacy may be more tied to the future than
the past; at least one would hope so.
What may not be quantified in the many columns and stories filed
upon his death however, was his unswerving support, during his life,
for the downtrodden and for youth.
He was unrelenting in giving a voice to the voiceless; he
authored the Judiciary Committee's reports on which the civil rights bills
of 1957, 1960, 1964 and 1968 were based. He was instrumental in
securing immigration reforms that did away with quotas, and was a key
person in insuring passage of the fair housing law of 1966. When he was selected as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, no
better man could have been selected to represent the will of the people of this
nation at one of its most difficult junctures in
As a High School student, I still remember receiving with
delight his letters of congratulations on my admittance to College, and
regarding the scholarships which I was awarded. Similar letters
went out to thousands over the decades while Congressman Rodino worked in
Washington, to High School and College students from NJ. He showed genuine
concern for the welfare of common people, whether they were his
constituents or not, and that was uncommon
indeed. It was exemplary. His ardor for the responsibility
entrusted to him by the people of NJ, was obvious He never let
us down, and forever shall he be honored for it.
In short, what can be said of former Congressman Rodino
? He was fair. He was honest. He was, and IS one of
the best role model's for the future of this nation.
Posted June 01,
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