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Issues of the Day

Floor Speech

Date: July 24, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SHIMKUS. Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for yielding.

I also recognize Al Green, who was going to do the same thing. Al Green is a Democrat. Those stories don't get reported very much when you go to a colleague, a friend, a Democrat, and say, ``Hey, I really want a few minutes so I can talk about my parents,'' and he was happy to do that, but he just ran out of time and had to run to the plane. So, my thanks to him.

It was about this time 5 years ago that I came to the floor to honor my mom and dad, Gene and Kathleen Shimkus, as they were celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary. It was my hope that I would do so again this week, honoring their 70th wedding anniversary, but that was not to be. My mom passed away on April 6 of this year.

Now, as I have done this week a couple of times, it is time to thank my parents for their incredible support throughout my life and particularly these last 24 years.

My mom and dad were both local Collinsville kids. Dad was raised on South Clinton by his grandparents, and my mom was raised on Fairway Boulevard in State Park. So from Collinsville High School, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, and raising seven children, they knew a lot of people.

Mom kept the local yard sign book. It was difficult for anyone to tell my mom no. She was loved. My dad would put up the yard signs and take them down. Mom also was involved in many early envelope stuffing parties for political mailings.

Mom and dad covered the parades in Madison County, those that I attended and those that I could not. Dad drove and mom organized the walkers, signs, and candy. She helped fill the ranks with grandchildren, especially Adam, Gene, Elizabeth, Niki, Tim, Terry, and Dusty. And when out-of-state grandchildren were in town, they, too, were drafted to fill the ranks. Among these were Matthew, Maria, and Emily, along with Jennifer and Katy. Of course, I already spoke about my sons, about David's, Joshua's, and Daniel's participation in these parades.

Mom and dad could be counted on to watch our kids at a moment's notice. Dad picked me up from the airport when rides failed. It would be dad who would respond quickly when we locked ourselves out of the car or locked ourselves out of the house. And who can forget the Minnie Winnie that they purchased to make it easier for my family to get around during the 1996 campaign.

Mom was elected to my open township seat. She served for 20 years. She loved being a trustee and supporting the local senior center run by the township.

She continued to be friends to all, even those who identified as political opponents. In a story covering her retirement, she called herself the independent grandma. She referred to herself as the momma bear protecting her cubs. She sure defended me. She went on the attack against those who she thought were inappropriately attacking her son.

Collinsville has historically been a blue-collar and Democratic community. But the Collinsville Democrats are conservative Democrats. They support organized labor, attend church, are fiscally conservative, and support the right to life and the Second Amendment. The love and respect that the community had for my parents allowed them to give me, a Republican, a chance at elected office.

I still believe that family is the major building block of our society. My family is the building block that I stood on multiple times as I served the people of southern Illinois. I am not sure I could have even taken on the challenge to run without the help of my mom and dad. I recognize their sacrifice and support and thank them.

Hebrews 4:9 says, ``There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.'' My mom is enjoying her Sabbath-rest, but we still miss her.