America

Politicians Remember Robert Byrd

President Obama said he was "saddened to hear this morning that the people of West Virginia have lost a true champion, the United States has lost a venerable institution, and America has lost a voice of principle and reason with the passing of Robert C. Byrd."

Senator Byrd’s story was uniquely American.  He was born into wrenching poverty, but educated himself to become an authoritative scholar, respected leader, and unparalleled champion of our Constitution.  He scaled the summit of power, but his mind never strayed from the people of his beloved West Virginia.  He had the courage to stand firm in his principles, but also the courage to change over time.

He was as much a part of the Senate as the marble busts that line its chamber and its corridors.  His profound passion for that body and its role and responsibilities was as evident behind closed doors as it was in the stemwinders he peppered with history.  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.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Majority Leader, said "the people of West Virginia have lost a dedicated public servant, and America has lost a great defender of its most precious traditions."

He was the foremost guardian of the Senate's complex rules, procedures and customs, and as leader of both the majority and the minority caucuses in the Senate he knew better than most that legislation is the art of compromise.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Minority Leader, said 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.

According to Joe Manchin, the governor of West Virginia, "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 or state's and nation's history.  His accomplishments and contributions will define history for eternity.

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