ADAM BENJAMIN, JR. (1935-1982)

This outstanding American Assyrian was the first Assyrian to become a member of the U.S. Congress and his untimely death on Labor Day 1982 was a loss to all the Assyrian people.

After graduating from Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri, he joined the U.S. Marines and was honorably discharged as a Corporal. In 1954, Adam entered West Point and graduated an officer in 1958 with a BS Degree in Engineering. Then he served as a Senior Parachutist with the 101st Airborne Division. Benjamin left the army in 1961 with First Lt. bars. Then he worked for the city of Gary becoming Executive Secretary to the Mayor in 1965.

In 1966 he received his Jurist-Doctor Degree in Law from Valparaiso University Law School and was admitted to the Bar. In that same year, Adam Benjamin was elected State Representative. In the next year he was named "The Outstanding American of Assyrian Descent" by the General Assembly. His accomplishments are too numerous, but suffice to say that in 1970 he was elected State Senator. The next year he was named as one of the two outstanding State Senators. Again, Benjamin's achievements in the State Senate of Indiana are too numerous to record here.

In 1976, State Senator Benjamin, Jr. ran as the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Congress from the First Congressional District, Indiana. He won, becoming the first Assyrian to do so. Once in Washington, Adam moved upward with deliberate speed and rapidly gained the respect of those in power. He was a rising star with an astounding ability to get things done without pain. He was intellectually brilliant, instinctively sensitive and succinctly eloquent. He had the makings of a man on his way to be anointed, as a friend writes.

After his death at the age of 47, a group of 82 Congressmen and senators paid eloquent tribute to their departed colleague in a Capital Hill Memorial Service. His name has since been memorialized on many public works. He leaves behind his wife, Patricia Ann, his children, Adam, Alison Louise and Arianne.

Assyrian Star, Chicago & San Jose