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John Garamendi

California congressman brings his Basque roots to Capitol Hill

California congressman brings his Basque roots to Capitol Hill

Rep. John Garamendi wanted to feel the dirt in his hands as a piece of his Basque heritage was planted on U.S. Capitol grounds Friday.

After pitching a ceremonial shovelful of dirt over the roots of an oak sapling, Garamendi knelt, grasped a handful of dirt and sifted clumped soil through his fingers. Soon the two dozen spectators joined him, covering the roots of the 4-foot tree. Several of his granddaughters helped “Papa” scoop up the dirt.

“The Basque people are connected to the earth, to their place,” Garamendi said. “It’s where the roots are… the earth, the ground, the soil.”

The assembled crowd broke into...

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