Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives honored Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat and Holocaust hero who saved the lives of an estimated 100,000 Hungarian Jews during World War II, by passing legislation to posthumously award him the Congressional Gold Medal. The Congressional Gold Medal is one of the highest civilian decorations in the United States, awarded to an individual who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States. Raoul Wallenberg was made an honorary citizen of the United States, an honor only previously extended to Winston Churchill. Before the vote, Rep. Harris participated in an event sponsored by the Hungarian Embassy that included Annette Lantos, herself a Holocaust survivor and the widow of former Rep. Tom Lantos, Hungarian Ambassador Gyorgy Szapary, Hungarian Deputy Foreign Minister Zsolt Nemeth, and Congressmen Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Dan Burton (R-IN), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL).
"This is very emotional for me because my father is of Hungarian descent and he was an anti-communist who was sent to a Soviet Gulag for two years," said Rep. Andy Harris. "It is an honor to help recognize the memory of Raoul Wallenberg, one the greatest humanitarians of the 20th Century. Even in tragic periods like the Holocaust, heroes like Raoul Wallenberg shine a light for future generations so they never forget."