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Thanking Karen Shimkus

Floor Speech

Date: July 20, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, you know, the clock keeps ticking, and before you know it, my time as a Member of Congress will end, so I need to start now saying thank you to some of those folks who have committed their lives in helping me and supporting me in my political and governmental career.

In Genesis 2, we find God instituting marriage:

It is not good for man to be alone. I will create for him a helpmate. That is why a man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home.

I have been extremely blessed to have Karen as my partner and helpmate for 33 years. We will celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary this Saturday.

Karen and I met at my last Active-Duty Army station in Monterey, California. She allowed me to drag her to my hometown of Collinsville, where I had a teaching job lined up. We have been there ever since.

Karen has allowed me to run for various political offices, winning some races, losing some races. Whether it was my first race for the county board or my last one for Congress, she always supported me.

She always answered the call when needed. It could be stuffing envelopes, painting signs, walking door to door, participating in parades, attending hostile debates, or speaking for me at events when I had a conflict. I never knew her once to say no. You will have to ask her if she enjoyed any of it, but whether she enjoyed it or not, she always participated gracefully.

Our sons are now young men at 27, 25, and 20 years old. I really became an absentee father upon my election to Congress. You see, my two boys were 3 and 1 at the time. Finishing my 24th year tells you that their entire life has consisted of me being a Member of Congress and my wife, Karen, being a single parent. Our boys have turned out to be nice and respectful young men, and Karen gets the credit.

Our marriage is founded on Christ and His church on Earth. Karen is a trained director of Christian education. She has her masters in organ performance and has taught music at the grade school and high school level. I am a former jock, Army officer, and a back patter. We complement each other. And, again, as it says in Genesis: the two shall be one flesh. We are partners. We are a team.

The decades have flown by, and I will never be able to adequately thank Karen for her love and support over the years. She is ready to have me home more, and I am ready to be home. COVID-19 has already allowed us to test this theory of being home more than apart. I think we are going to do just fine.

Thank you, Karen. I owe you a debt of gratitude, and so does this Nation for allowing and supporting my service to it.