Tributes from Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Senator Edward J. Markey on the Occasion of the Naming of Tom Lantos Street in Budapest

Office of the Vice President of the United States of America

Dear Friends,

I wish that I could be there with you today to honor my dear friend Tom Lantos.  For all the years he lived in the United States and served in our Congress, Tom never forgot his Hungarian roots.  He told me many times stories from his early life here in Budapest.  So it’s fitting that this street, running in front of the school where Tom’s education began, will forever bear his name.

Tom used to say: “The veneer of civilization is paper thin.  We are its guardians, and we can never rest.”  That conviction was rooted in his personal experience – his memories, as a teenager in Hungary, of the profound horrors of the Holocaust; and his deliverance thanks to the bravery of Raoul Wallenberg.

Tom made it his life-long work to fight against the evil that he had seen firsthand and to defend others against the suffering it caused.  Whether it was his steadfast support for Refuseniks in the Former Soviet Union, of his leadership to end ethnic violence in the Balkans, of his protests against the atrocities in Darfur, Tom never rested in his mission. He stood sentinel, guarding human rights, fighting against injustice, and standing up for all those who could not defend themselves.

Tom was my counselor, my teacher, and ultimately, he became a part of my family.  I will be forever indebted to Tom for everything I learned from him.  It’s my hope that all those who walk this road named in his honor, and all the students who study in Tom’s former school, will take something from Tom’s story too.

That is how we will keep alive the memory of all those we have lost and give meaning to the words “never again.”  And, I believe, that’s the best memorial we can give to Tom Lantos and everything he worked so hard to accomplish.


Joseph R. Biden, Jr.


Today would have been my friend Tom Lantos’ 88th Birthday, and we all know that Tom loved a good celebration.  My wife Susan and I had many occasions to celebrate with Tim and Annette over the years, and there was nothing like seeing him happy and in his element.  He surely would have been ecstatic about this street in front of his high school being named in his honor.  Tom often said he was proudly an American by choice, but a piece of his heart always stayed in Budapest.  His lifelong love of learning likely started right here in this building.  I know the Lantos family is incredibly grateful for Mayor Toth’s efforts to carry on Tom’s memory, and I know I speak on Behalf of so very many of Tom’s former colleagues when I extend my gratitude as well.  He was a fine man, a loving husband and father, an outstanding Member of Congress, and loyal friends.  The U.S. Congress was better for him having been a part of it, and I will always be grateful to have known him.  Thank you so much for the opportunity to join in remembering him in this very special way.

Edward J. Markey

Senator of the State of Massachusetts