Bono, Rice among those who remember Lantos as a force for freedom

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2.14.08_tn.jpgWatch Bono's speech and song

By Erica Werner, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Tom Lantos of California, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, was remembered at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday as a humanitarian who fought for the dispossessed worldwide.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Lantos, a Democrat who chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee, "the epitome of a true American hero."

Rock star Bono, a friend who'd worked with Lantos on issues including HIV/AIDS prevention, led the hundreds of House members and senators present in a chorus of the Beatles' "All You Need is Love."

Rice and Bono were among a string of luminaries, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who delivered tributes in Statuary Hall.

Lantos' daughter Katrina Swett, is a Democratic activist in New Hampshire. Her husband, Dick Swett, represented the state in Congress.

"For Tom, freedom was not just an abstract ideal," Rice said.

"I can see him look at us with those piercing yet compassionate eyes and say, 'All right, you can pause for a moment to remember me, but then you must resume the struggle,'" she said.

A native of Budapest, Lantos escaped Nazi labor camps as a teenager before coming to the United States.

He was 80 and serving his 14th term representing a northern California district when he died Monday. He'd disclosed in January that he'd been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus.

During his congressional career Lantos advocated for human rights in Sudan, Myanmar, China and elsewhere with a unique moral authority that earned him bipartisan respect.

In 2006 he was arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy protesting the killings in Darfur. Last year he called a hearing where he denounced Yahoo Inc. executives as "moral pygmies" for their involvement in China's jailing of a dissident.

"I saw him speak truth to power, to presidents, prime ministers and kings," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Lantos' childhood sweetheart and wife of nearly six decades, Annette, his two daughters and two of his 17 grandchildren also spoke.

Copyright © 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on February 15, 2008 3:25 AM.

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