US Senator Robert Byrd dies at age 92
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
, the longest serving member of the , died yesterday at the age of 92.
A spokesman for the Democratic Senator from the state of West Virginia said Byrd had been hospitalized since last week. At first he was thought to have been suffering from and severe but other medical conditions developed. On Sunday, his condition was described as "serious".
Byrd was first elected to thein 1952 and to the U.S. Senate in 1958. He suffered from ill health in recent years but retained his reputation for securing millions in federal funding for his home state.
Throughout his career in the U.S Senate he held positions including Hawaii has been sworn in as the new President pro tempore., twice and once. Due to his status as the longest serving Senator, Byrd was serving as , which made him third in line in the Presidential line of succession. Senator of
Byrd served nine terms in the Senate and was labeled by critics as the "King of". He used his former chairmanship of the to steer over one billion dollars in federal aid to West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the country, described by him as, "one of the rock bottomest [sic] of states".
Byrd took the title to heart and had no apologies about it, saying, "Pork, to the critic, is service to the people who enjoy some of the good things in life, and I've been happy to bring to West Virginia the projects to which they refer. I have no apology for it."
Byrd was originally born as Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr. on November 20, 1917. He grew up in the coal mining regions of southern West Virginia with his aunt and uncle, who adopted him following the death of his mother in the. He was the valedictorian of his high school class, but could not afford college and did not attend university courses until his 30s and 40s.
The Senator had a fondness for history, and included excerpts of poetry, Shakespeare, Greek and Roman classics along with verses from the Bible in his Senate speeches. He considered himself a staunch defender of United States Constitution, and carried a copy of it in his pocket. Byrd was versed inusing some of the Senate's arcane rules to his advantage. He received awards from the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians for significant contributions to history.
Byrd had his share of controversy. He was at one time a member of the, serving as the top officer of his local chapter and once held racial segregationist views. Byrd was involved in the against the landmark , which he voted against. Byrd later explicitly and repeatedly denounced his former segregationist views.
Byrd is the only Senator to have voted against the nominations of African-Americanjustices and Marshall's successor following his retirement, . Byrd's opposition of Thomas was based on the testimony of who accused Thomas of sexually harassing her and due to the fact that Byrd felt Thomas was "injecting racism" into the debate by using the phrase "high-tech lynching of uppity blacks" in his defense against the allegations.
Byrd, who supported the, was one of the most outspoken critics of the . He voted against the . Byrd spoke on the eve the invasion saying, "Today I weep for my country. [...] No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned. Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination."
- "Robert Byrd, longest-serving member of Congress, dead at 92" — , June 28, 2010
- Adam Clymer. "Robert C. Byrd, a Pillar of the Senate, Dies at 92" — , June 28, 2010
- Deborah Tate. "Longest Serving U.S. Senator, Robert Byrd, Dies" — , June 28, 2010