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Statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Death of Senator Robert Byrd

June 28, 2010

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON

The Passing of Senator Byrd

Today our country has lost a true American original, my friend and mentor Robert Byrd.

Senator Byrd was a man of surpassing eloquence and nobility. I will remember him most for a heartfelt comment he made to me in the dark days following 9/11, when my state of New York was reeling and we were scrambling to provide support and relief. “Think of me as the third senator from New York,” he said. And he meant it. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Byrd, who chaired the Appropriations Committee, New Yorkers got the help they needed. I will never forget his devotion and his friendship in that critical time.

It is almost impossible to imagine the United States Senate without Robert Byrd. He was not just its longest serving member, he was its heart and soul. From my first day in the Senate, I sought out his guidance, and he was always generous with his time and his wisdom. I admired his tireless advocacy for his constituents, his fierce defense of the Constitution and the traditions of the Senate, and his passion for government that improves the lives of the people it serves. And as Secretary of State, I continued to rely on his advice and counsel. I have been grateful for the support he has provided as a leader of the Appropriations Committee to our diplomats and development workers as they serve our country and advance our interests all over the world.

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. After more than five decades of service, he has left an indelible imprint on the Senate, on West Virginia, and on our nation. We will not see his like again.

I am heartened to know that Senator Byrd is now reunited with his beloved Erma, the high-school sweetheart who became his wife of nearly 70 years and the love of his life. My thoughts and prayers are with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Senators Levin, Byrd, Kennedy, Clinton

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    June 28, 2010 2:40 pm

    First Kennedy, now Byrd. I know each had his difficulties, but nobody’s perfect, and I think both embodied the idea of Senator as, first and foremost, a lifetime public servant. Can we say that about anybody else in the Senate these days?

    On another note, Hillary’s statement is warm, genuine, straight from the heart. I suppose this may reflect her genuine affection for Senator Byrd, but I think with years and confidence, she really has found her voice. Wish just a few more people — the margin between her and Obama was razor thin for most of the race — had heard this voice in 2008.

  2. June 28, 2010 10:00 pm

    i like how she had a video statement

  3. Terry permalink
    June 29, 2010 1:04 am

    I know she is traveling from July 1 to July 5 but I wonder if one of the Clintons will be attending the funeral. Surely all of Washington will be there including the President. I friend of mine attended the funeral of a billionaire democratic contributor here in San Francisco and both Nancy Pelosi and Mayor Gavin Newsom were there.

    As Carolyn notes, you can really hear Hillary’s voice in the video messages when she speaks from the heart.

  4. June 29, 2010 9:32 am

    He stood up against the Iraq War when few would, and I will always respect him for that. I didn’t always agree with Byrd but his position on Iraq, which could have hurt him politically in his southern state, made me have tremendous respect for him. And of course, he ended up being right. I will never forget his impassioned statement against the war the day before the authorization and he was one of the only people that even bothered to show up to the Senate that day and yet he gave one of the best, and most prescient speeches of his life.

    He will always be remembered for not only transforming from a Southern racist to someone who ended up supporting civil rights, but for being willing to do what few in Congress were willing to do after 9/11 in the run-up to the Iraq War- he put political expedience aside, studied the evidence against Saddam (of which there was a great deal showing the case for war was BS) and ignored the MSM and the war-mongers who were peddling lies and empty rhetoric. Not easy to do coming from West Virginia where war is considered patriotic.

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