08/10/10 - Remarks submitted for the Congressional Record - Madam Speaker, I rise to honor the remarkable life of Saren H. Simitian, a resident of California?s 14th Congressional District, who died on June 24, 2010. His 88 years were characterized by an intense passion for teaching, for traveling, and for engaging with those around him.
Born to Armenian immigrants in Jersey City, New Jersey, Saren Simitian quickly proved himself a promising intellectual and citizen of the world. He served in the Army during World War II, and attended New York University on the GI Bill. Saren went on to earn a Master?s Degree in history from Colorado University and began studying for his Ph.D at the University of Wisconsin before taking a different path and moving to California, where he later received a Master?s Degree in Library Science from San Jose State University.
Settling in the Bay Area, Saren Simitian embarked on a long and loving educational career. He taught social studies at Palo Alto High School for over two decades where he was known as a tough but well-liked teacher, deeply committed to all of his students. In his spare time, Saren taught English to Stanford students at the Bechtel International Center, and tutored with Project Read in Menlo Park. An educator to the last, Saren taught English in Beijing for six months a year well into his eighties.
In one of his most important lessons, Saren Simitian taught his son Joseph that ?you can?t get a hit with the bat on your shoulder.? Taking his father?s advice, Joe Simitian went on to a distinguished career in public service, serving on the Palo Alto School Board, the Palo Alto City Council, and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors before being elected to the California State Assembly and State Senate. Taking his own advice, Saren dedicated himself to a lifetime of eclectic pursuits, shouldering a backpack instead of a bat and traveling the world.
Well-read and worldly, Saren Simitian traversed more terrain after his retirement than most people half his age. His wanderlust took him to visit friends, relatives, and his grandparents? graves, always acquiring new friends and new stories. He walked across Portugal twice, first from top to bottom, and then east to west a decade later. Seeking adventure on multiple continents, Saren fell into a ditch in Eastern Europe, was mugged in Asia, and nearly drowned in Australia. Despite these mishaps, his family noted, he ?never slowed down, never lost his passion for people and places.? Saren?s adventurous lifestyle no doubt owed in part to his healthy habits of eating homemade yogurt and exercising whenever possible, kept his mind as fit as his body.
Madam Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in extending our deepest sympathies to Saren Simitian?s family. He is survived by his son, the Honorable S. Joseph Simitian, and his daughter-in-law, Mary Hughes. A man whose far-flung journeys never took him far from his core values, Saren Simitian taught in order to travel and traveled in order to teach, enriching everyone he met with his unique outlook on life and his singular sense of the world.
03/05/10 - Remarks submitted for the Congressional Record -
Madam Speaker, I rise today on a topic of deep personal significance. Today the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed H. Res. 252, the Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution. The next step is for the full House of Representatives to consider this resolution and finally place our country on the right side of history.
To all Americans and Armenian-Americans such as myself, this matter is not a historical exercise. It is about truth and justice. It is about acknowledging that a genocide which has long been documented and discussed took place . . . the first genocide of the 20th Century.
The time for avoiding the truth of the Armenian Genocide has passed. More than 90 years after the fact, no one can seriously question whether the systematic annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians was genocide. It?s a fact.
To those who say that this is an inopportune time, an inconvenient time to acknowledge it, I quote my dear friend, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, ?facts are stubborn things.? They don?t yield to convenience nor wait for opportunity.
The United States was a leader in the relief effort for the Genocide?s victims in the 1920s, extending help to people like my mother who fled the massacres. Those of us who have lived with this tragedy in our families and our communities see today the disturbing similarities taking place around the world in the bleak landscapes of Darfur and the Nineveh Plains region of Iraq. If we?re serious when we say ?never again,? we must be honest about history.
Genocide is the most barbaric and criminal act mankind can commit. Our condemnation today must be full-throated and unambiguous. Thank you Chairman Berman and Representative Schiff for having the courage to introduce this measure and pass it out of committee. Please join me in voting ?yes? on this resolution when it reaches the House Floor.