Superman is famous for fighting for truth and justice, and the Man of Steel not only inspired incoming congressman Robert Garcia with his values, but also helped teach him to speak English as a young immigrant from Peru.
Garcia will be sworn in as a representative for California's 42nd congressional district with a copy of the Constitution, his citizenship certificate, a photo of his parents, and a vintage first-edition of Superman #1 on loan from the Library of Congress.
"I came to America at the age of five as a Spanish-speaker," Garcia told PEOPLE. "As a kid, I would pick up comics at old thrift shops and pharmacies and that's how I learned to read and write in English."
Garcia particularly identifies with the Kryptonian orphan as a fellow immigrant and a firm believer in the same core principles.
"Superman is the first comic I read as a kid," Garcia said. "He was an immigrant from another planet who was raised to believe in truth and justice — and those are things I value. So, definitely, there's a personal connection there."
Superman made his debut in Action Comics in 1938 and proved so popular the following year he was given his own series, a superhero first, and the rest is billion-dollar franchise history. Just last year, an original 1939 Superman #1 became the most expensive comic book in history with a record-breaking sale of $5.3 million. Luckily, the Library of Congress had one just sitting around for Garcia to borrow for his special day.
That special day, however, has been delayed since the House of Representatives has been unable to elect a new Speaker, but once they do, Garcia will be the first openly gay immigrant in Congress.
Garcia became a citizen in 2001, a moment he considers the proudest in his life and his reason for going into public service. He was serving as the mayor of Long Beach when his parents died, just days apart, of COVID in 2020, but Garcia still wanted them be a part of his swearing-in ceremony in some way.
"Not having them here is difficult," Garcia said. "My mom immigrated here. We grew up very, very poor and she worked as a health care worker at the same clinic for more than 25 years. To go from immigrant to seeing her son sworn in to Congress would be a huge deal. I know they are observing from afar, and having them be a part of this is really important."