Remembrances for Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who has died at the age of 92; Longest serving senator

Monday, June 28, 2010

Testimonials to Sen. Robert C. Byrd

Testimonials to Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving member of the Senate, who has died at the age of 92:

“The United States Senate has lost a venerable institution, and America has lost a voice of principle and reason with the passing of Robert C. Byrd. … He held the deepest respect of members of both parties, and he was generous with his time and advice, something I appreciated greatly as a young senator.” — President Barack Obama.

“A guy who was there when I was a 29-year-old kid being sworn into the United States Senate shortly thereafter; a guy who stood in the rain, in a pouring rain, freezing rain outside a church as I buried my daughter and my wife before I got sworn in … . We lost the dean of the United States Senate, but also the state of West Virginia lost its most fierce advocate and, as I said, I lost a dear friend.” — Vice President Joe Biden

“Robert Byrd’s was one of the greatest minds the world has ever seen. From his graduation as valedictorian of his high school class at the age of 16 to his chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee until the age of 91, he mastered everything he touched with great thoughtfulness and skill. Throughout more than half a century of service in this body, and six more in the House, Senator Byrd never stopped fighting for the people of West Virginia and for Democratic principles.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“Senator Byrd came from humble beginnings in the southern coalfields, was raised by hardworking West Virginians, and triumphantly rose to the heights of power in America. But he never forgot where he came from nor who he represented, and he never abused that power for his own gain.” — Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

“Sen. Robert Byrd and his wife Erma were our personal friends, and he was my closest and most valuable adviser while I served as president. I respected him and attempted in every way to remain in his good graces. He was a giant among legislators, and was courageous in espousing controversial issues. … ” — Former President Jimmy Carter.

“Sen. Byrd combined a devotion to the U.S. Constitution with a deep learning of history to defend the interests of his state and the traditions of the Senate. We will remember him for his fighter’s spirit, his abiding faith, and for the many times he recalled the Senate to its purposes. Generations of Americans will read the masterful history of the Senate he leaves behind, and they will also read about the remarkable life of Robert Carlyle Byrd.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“We knew that his time was drawing nigh. Senator Byrd was the keeper of the flame here in the Senate. He believed in the Senate as an institution. He believed in the constitutional role of the Senate not to be a rubber stamp for the president and he believed fiercely in his state and his constituents there.” — Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

“I served with him for 36 years. We sat in the same row. He was a senator’s senator. He was a keeper of our traditions, a keeper of the rules, and the kind of senator who always kept his word. … I will miss Bob Byrd.” — Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

“The United States Senate has lost an icon, and the people of West Virginia a beloved son who was woven into the very fabric of our state. Senator Byrd’s mastery of the Senate will be remembered for the ages, but those who knew him best realize his legacy will be one of love for the West Virginians he served for nearly 57 years.” — Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

“He was a great patriot. He loved the Senate, no doubt about it. I remembered how he railed against textbooks one time. He said they contained ‘touch, feely twallow.’ ” — Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

“For 50 years, his voice has protected the rules and traditions of the Senate and garnered great respect for the body as an institution. His forcing the Senate to strictly adhere to its rules and procedures has protected the voice of the minority and enforced respect and collegiality among its members.” — Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla.

“He was a defender of the Constitution, a champion of the Senate. He was West Virginia’a greatest ally, her faithful son, a source of tremendous pride, and our Big Daddy. He was a mentor, a teacher, a leader, a constant source of inspiration.” — Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.

“Sen. Byrd was a fearless fighter for the Constitution, his beloved state and its great people. He made a significant mark as a member of Congress in both our state’s and the nation’s history. His accomplishments and contributions will define history for eternity.” — Gov. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

“Senator Byrd’s passing is an unspeakable loss, first and foremost to West Virginia, but also to Congress and the country as a whole. He is a giant in the United States Senate, for his unmatched dedication to public service, incredible Constitutional scholarship and above all, his reverence and respect for the democratic process. He is the most important public servant in West Virginia’s history our state’s biggest advocate and protector.” — Rick Thompson, West Virginia speaker of the House.

“Robert Byrd led by the power of his example, and he made all of us who had the honor of serving as his colleagues better public servants and better citizens.” — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“The United Mine Workers and all coal-mining families and communities have lost their best friend in U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd.” — Cecil E. Roberts, international president of United Mine Workers of America.

“The Senate has lost a giant and America has lost a real fighter for our working families.” — Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

“He never stopped growing as a public official, and was a man who learned from his mistakes. He was more than a friend and colleague — he was a mentor to me and literally hundreds of legislators with whom he served over the past five decades.” — Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

“I can think of no one in the history of the Senate who demonstrated a greater capacity for growth than Robert Byrd. He was unmatched in his recognition of our obligation to the Constitution and to the institution of Congress itself.” — Rep. David Obey, D-Wis.

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