Fifty trips around the sun
December 8, 2017
By U.S. Congressman Raul Labrador

I hope you don’t mind if I get a little bit personal in today’s newsletter.

On December 8, 1967 – 50 years ago today – the biggest story in America was the Vietnam War (“2 Battalions of Vietcong Crushed in Mekong Delta” was the headline in the next day’s New York Times); the number one song was "Daydream Believer"by The Monkees; the number one movie was Hells Angels on Wheels (don’t worry, I’ve never seen it either); and the number one toy for Christmas was Battleship. Oh – and that day was the day I was born.

Today, on my 50th birthday, I’m in a reflective mood – thinking of the many blessings of my life so far: my mom; my wife and children; great role models from my childhood; great friends from my life today; and a great job that I owe to you, the people of Idaho.

As most of you know, I was born in Puerto Rico to a single mom – a wonderful, amazing woman named Ana Pastor. I was her only child. There were more than a few times that my mom wasn’t sure how she was going to put food on the table, but I never felt poor. My mom was strong, smart, and brave. She taught me the values of hard work, honesty, education, and loyalty. She also believed in me and taught me to dream big. She sacrificed everything in her life to provide me with every opportunity to succeed. There’s no love like a mother’s love, and my only regret is that she isn’t here to share this day with me today.

When I was 13, my mom and I moved to Las Vegas, where her first job was as a change girl in one of the big hotels on the Strip. She set a great example, rising to become a restaurant manager in a different hotel, while spending her time off taking college courses. She ultimately graduated from the University of Las Vegas. At the time, I was like many teenage boys - full of ambition, but also needing discipline and direction. My mom’s strongest desire was to find a place where I could have the right influences that could shape my life.

This quest led us to investigate, and eventually join, the LDS Church. There I met amazing men and women who had a huge impact on my childhood, coming into my life at exactly the right time. My Bishop and spiritual leader was Ed Smith. He was a kind man who took a very personal interest in my life. I also joined the Boy Scouts, and it was there that I met my scout leader, Bob Swift. They both became strong male influences on me – teaching me and the other boys about the importance of hard work and making sure we always gave 100 percent to whatever task we were doing. One of the proudest days of my life was when I finally attained the rank of Eagle, and I would never have been able to do that without Bob's support and Ed’s encouragement. Their leadership and guidance reinforced my faith in God, my belief that I should work hard to achieve my dreams, and that, in turn, inspired me to pursue my college education at BYU.

I began attending BYU in the fall of 1985. It was there that I not only received a great education, but I also met the love of my life, Becca. Becca and I have been married for 26 years and I could not ask for a better spouse, a better life partner, or a better friend. She is the one who gives me the confidence and courage to do what others think is impossible every single day. She also gave me the greatest gift I could ever ask for: our five children, Michael, Katerina, Joshua, Diego, and Rafael. I am so proud of our kids, and I love seeing them grow up and blossom in their own unique ways.


A few months from now, my eldest son Michael will have the chance to experience the same pride and joy he’s given to me. He and his wife Rachel are expecting their first child, and I will be a grandpa for the first time. Michael and Rachel met at BYU and graduated together earlier this year, exactly 25 years after Becca and I did. Now Michael and Rachel will be taking their own turn on the circle of life, and I am so excited for them.

There’s one other group of people I’m thinking of today – and that’s you, the people of Idaho. I am grateful to you for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to be your Representative in Congress. Four times, you have chosen me to be your voice in our nation’s capital; to fight for you; to fight for what’s right; to make Idaho a better place to live, work, and raise a family. It’s a great responsibility, and I am humbled by it. Thank you for giving me your trust and confidence. I will continue doing everything I can to deserve it.

I’ve heard it said that the key to happiness is “someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.” On my 50th birthday, I am blessed to have all three. Thank you for being a part of it.