Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
AMBASSADOR DAVID HERMELIN
(Senate - December 15, 2000)
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[Pages S11907-S11908] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] AMBASSADOR DAVID HERMELIN Mr. ABRAHAM. Mr. President, today I rise to pay tribute to the memory of an outstanding leader, a philanthropist who knew no limits, and a distinguished public servant whose integrity and decency made him a role-model to all who knew him. A few weeks ago, we in the State of Michigan mourned the passing of Ambassador David Hermelin. I suppose it is a little presumptuous to suggest that only the State of Michigan beams with pride in our association with Ambassador Hermelin, for the organizations that he led, the political leaders he counseled, and the communities to which he dedicated his life, literally span the globe. Against that backdrop, I will submit for the Record excerpts of eulogies--as they were reported in the Detroit Jewish News--by Rabbi Irwin Groner of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Michigan, Brian Hermelin, Jon Gundersen, deputy chief of the American Embassy in Norway, and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Daniel Glickman. But before I submit these eulogies, I would just like to take a moment to reflect on the first time I really had a chance to get to know Ambassador Hermelin and the impact he had on me. It was shortly after President Clinton had nominated him to serve as our nation's top diplomatic representative in Norway. As protocol dictates, David contacted his U.S. Senators to seek our support. And while David Hermelin and I did not always see eye-to-eye on the domestic political issues of the day, we agreed to meet to discuss his confirmation process. While I had heard many things about David before that meeting--about all the charitable causes he had led, about his close relationships with top government leaders in the United States and Israel, about his successful business career--I never could have expected to be drawn to the orbit of David's warmth, energy, kindness and wisdom, in the way that I was. From the moment we met that afternoon in my office, we forged a friendship, that developed further during our interactions through his Senate confirmation process, when I was proud to testify on his behalf and urge my Republican colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee to waste no time in ushering this fine man's nomination through the Senate. And our friendship even deepened further over time. For even though he and I came from opposite sides of the political aisle, I found myself seeking his advice and counsel from time to time. Sometimes it was his thought provoking perspective on developments in this Middle East, or the insights he had gained the being an active participant in U.S. foreign policy as Ambassador to Norway. Other times it was his advocacy for both the Detroit and American Jewish communities, or his tireless philanthropic efforts in Michigan. Whatever the topic, no matter when we met, it was impossible to not benefit in some way from David Hermelin's wisdom, or his contagious energy and passion for life. I feel blessed that I knew David Hermelin for the short time that I did. I cannot begin to even imagine the scope and depth of impact he had on the people closest to him. So my heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to his dedicated and compassionate wife, Doreen, and his devoted, caring, and decent children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, many of whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know as well. In closing, Mr. President, I would like to refer to the description of James Madison, another great American, by one of his biographers, in which Madison was summed up this way: ``When you called on him, he was always home.'' Well, I think that's how David Hermelin could be described as well by everyone he touched. No matter who it was that called on his help and on his leadership--the Jewish community, numerous charitable causes, the State of Michigan, the United States Government, the people of Norway, the State of Israel and most importantly, his family--whenever you called on David Hermelin, he always took your call, and he was always ready to lend a hand. I am better for having known David Hermelin. He was not only an outstanding leader and generous giver in every way possible, but he was also the kind of individual everyone would want as a neighbor. He will be deeply missed. I ask that the above mentioned excerpts be printed in the Record. The material follows: Excerpts from the Detroit Jewish News David B. Hermelin, Saying Goodbye a beloved leader gets an emotional farewell at Shaarey Zedek David Hermelin was remembered by more than 2,500 people whose lives he touched at his Nov. 24 funeral. it was held in Southfield at Congregation Shaarey Zedek--the synagogue he had served as president. Afterwards, some 150 cars formed a procession for the interment at Clover Hill Park Cemetery in Birmingham. Mr. Hermelin, of Bingham Farms, died of brain cancer Nov. 22, 2000 at age 63. Delivering the eulogy was his friend of 41 years, Shaarey Zedek Rabbi Irwin Groner. Also speaking were Jon Gundersen, deputy chief of the American Embassy in Oslo, Norway, where Mr. Hermelin served as ambassador; U.S. Agriculture Secretary Daniel Glickman; and Mr. Hermelin's son, Brian. Speaking first, Gundersen said he has just conveyed to Mr. Hermelin's wife, Doreen, messages from the royal family of Norway, from the U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, from the Norwegian ambassador and consul general, from the prime minister of Norway and from the foreign minister. ``I've just arrived from Norway, and it seems the entire nation sends to David and Doreen their greatest condolences,'' Gundersen said. ``David and Doreen represented the very best of America and what we stand for. Faith, honesty, openness, tolerance, love. David, your embassy family and indeed an entire nation will miss you. You will be in our hearts forever.'' Glickman, like President Bill Clinton, has known the Hermelins for many years. He shared a letter the president sent to Mrs. Hermelin, which read, in part: ``David loved life. And he made sure that everyone around him shared that love. I will always cherish his friendship and support [[Page S11908]] and remember with gratitude his exceptional service as our ambassador to Norway. ``He left the world a better place than he found it. And no one could ask for a finer legacy ``Hillary and I are keeping you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.'' Brian Hermelin then gave an emotional, personal tribute to his father. ``The thing about us that made us feel the most special was that he was our dad,'' Brian said. ``Just being able to be with him at the intimate family settings allowed the full bright glow of one of God's brightest lights to shine on us and provided a comfort and security which is irreplaceable.'' Brian added, ``He just knew how much fun it was to be alive. And he was sure if you were with him, you would know how much fun life could be, too., ``We took such pride in his accomplishments with him,'' Brian said. ``We were all equally amazed at how far and how much he accomplished because we know how he saw himself, just a regular kid from Pasadena [Avenue in Detroit]. He made it all seem so within our reach--the accomplishments, the friends, the admiration, the fun. Just go out there with that positive, can-do attitude and you can have all that, too.'' Rabbi Groner mourned his friend, whose influence was felt from the sanctuary of the synagogue to the far reaches of the world stage. ``When a true leader goes, can he be replaced?'' the rabbi asked. ``Woe is the army that has lost its captain. ``We will miss him. He will miss his hearty welcome, he warm laugh, his quick wit, his words of encouragement, his shared exuberance. ``When David came into a room, his luminous presence was immediately felt,'' Rabbi Groner added. ``He was so vital, so filled with energy, so magnetic that he seemed indestructible. ``Once you came to know David, your life changed. You laughed more, you felt more, you cared more, you gave more. ``To have known David was to have warmed your hands at the central fire of life. ``For David Hermelin, service, benevolence, mitzvot was the very essence of his life,'' said the rabbi. ``David gave us a great and blessed gift. He taught us how to dream a glorious dream.'' Mr. Hermelin is survived by his wife, Doreen; son and daughter-in-law Brian and Jennifer Hermelin; daughters and sons-in-law Marcie and Rob Orley, Karen Hermelin Borman and Mark Borman, Julie Hermelin Frank and Mitchell Frank, Francine Hermelin Levite and Adam Levite; and grandchildren Matthew, Alex, Jason and Olivia Orley, Max and Isabel Hermelin, Asa Levite and Madeline Borman. Also suriving are sisters and brother-in-law Henrietta Hermelin Weinberg, Lois Shiffman and Terran and Roger Leemis; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law Eugene and Suzanne Curtis, Reggie and Dr. Robert Fisher and Mitchell Curtis; and mother- in-law Anna Curtis. ____________________