Remembering a legend

Published 9:02 am Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday morning an icon passed away.

West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd (D) died at the age of 92. Byrd had been a member of the U.S. Senate for 51 years and was serving as President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, which made him third in line for the Presidency.

A North Carolina native, Senator Byrd moved to West Virginia when he was orphaned as a one-year old child. He made a life for himself in that state and was elected to the state house of delegates, state senate, U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.

While Byrd was by no means perfect, he was a defender of the U.S. Constitution, often known to carry the document around in his pocket. We need more U.S. Senators that love the founding articles of our nation the way he did.

Senator Byrd cast his first vote in the Senate on January 8, 1958. In a speech given on the occasion of Byrd’s 18,000th vote – which is the most in history by any senator – Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) recounted these facts.

* His colleagues at the time included Sens. John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson;

* Vice President Richard Nixon was the presiding officer;

* Hawaii was not yet a state; and

* A state-of-the-art computer would have taken up half of the space of the Senate chamber.

During his five decades in politics, the country changed, but Sen. Byrd remained a defender of the constitution, a defender of his beloved state of West Virginia and throw-back to the days when the country’s leaders weren’t more concerned about TV than about leading.

As a nation, we will miss the U.S. Senator from West Virginia. He was a good and decent man who served his country well.