Congressman Moran’s Tribute to Marwan Burgan

SPEECH OF HON. JAMES P. MORAN OF VIRGINIA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2009

• Mr. Moran of Virginia. Madam Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the life of Marwan Burgan, community activist, human rights leader, Democratic Party stalwart and dear personal friend. Marwan’s long struggle with cancer has ended, but the contributions he made to Northern Virginia, particularly within the Arab American community, will continue as a lasting tribute to his life.

• By his own example of civic engagement and leadership, Marwan served as a remarkable model for other first-generation Palestinian Americans. In 2008, he founded PACE (Project for American Civic Engagement), to facilitate placement of underrepresented young people into Congress as interns and staff. His devotion to public service and efforts to politically empower young people, especially in the Arab American community, has charted a course for a next generation of engaged, enlightened and energetic leaders.

• A lifelong civil servant, Marwan worked in Congress for eight years, first as a Foreign Affairs Legislative Assistant, then Legislative Director, and finally as Chief of Staff for former Congressman Mervyn Dymally. Later in his career, he dived into local government, serving as Chief Aide to Penny Gross, a member of the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County.

• Ever since moving to Northern Virginia in the late 1980’s, Marwan was heavily involved in local politics and the Democratic Party in Virginia. In his home county of Fairfax, he served as Vice-Chair of Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) for Voter Registration, chaired the Local Affairs Committee for FCDC and until his death, served on the Steering Committee for the Democratic Party of Virginia.

• On the night he passed away, Marwan was planning to attend a dinner with Speaker PELOSI and Northern Virginia leaders at my home. He was feeling especially weak that day and had to decline. I wish he had been able to come. Despite his pain, it would have brought a smile to his lips to hear the Speaker explain how close we are to achieving universal healthcare and economic opportunity for all Americans and the renewed hope for peace throughout the world–issues he had spent his life fighting for.

• Madam Speaker, when someone dies so young, it’s important that we bear in mind the real tragedy of life is not at death but what dies inside of us while we live. In that sense Marwan lived a long and fruitful life. He never lost his passion, courage or commitment for justice and human rights. Without Marwan its now up to us to stand up and speak out all the louder for what he cared about: dignity of all human beings, the end of the violence and oppression which in many parts of the world is taken for granted, and the love of each other as precious instruments of our God.