TRIBUTE TO SENATOR ROBERT C. BYRD -- (Senate - June 16, 2006)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. BIDEN. Mr President, I am sorry that I was not present on the floor on Monday when my colleagues paid tribute to my friend, ROBERT C. BYRD, but I would like to add my voice to the chorus speaking on his unsurpassed contributions to the U.S. Senate and to America.
I say without hesitation Senator Byrd is one of the most remarkable men I have ever had the privilege to work with. Although I have been here for 33 years, he is the only Member whom I have looked up to as my senior--my senior in every way.
When my days are finished in this Chamber, my children, my grandchildren, and my great-grandchildren will know that I served with the greatest servant of the U.S. Senate of all who have served.
Once someone said of another West Virginian, Stonewall Jackson, that ``his character and will make him a stonewall and more of a stonewall than any man I've ever known.''
I say the same of ROBERT BYRD. When he walks on the floor, Constitution in his pocket, and he looks around, raises his voice, points his finger, he is our stonewall. He is the unshakeable rock of this institution. He is our foundation. He is the protector of this body.
I am absolutely certain that the Senator's service, knowledge, and contributions to the Senate will never be surpassed. This country gentleman has no peer. No one has given as much to this institution or loved it as much as the senior Senator from West Virginia.
The Senate is what it is because of ROBERT BYRD. And he is our wise senior, not because of the records but because he is a man of his conviction. He has told the truth on every issue that confronts our country. He is our rock of integrity.
When I was elected at age 29, and 6 weeks later, before I was sworn in, my wife and daughter were killed in a terrible car accident, Senator Byrd came to the funeral home. He waited in a long line to pay his respects. It was an act of kindness that I have never forgotten.
I know how bittersweet this honor is for him, as his lifemate, Erma, would have been 89 years old this week. We all admire the love and devotion the two of them had for each other, in health and in sickness. We know his first love was not in the Chamber; it was at home. We also know how proud she would be of him this week.
One of America's favorite West Virginians, who also set a lot of records in his day, is Mr. Clutch, Jerry West. He once said: ``You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.''
Senator Byrd has worked 17,331 days--days that have been good and bad. In all that time, he has made the most out of every one of them and gotten more done than anyone will ever know. It has been an honor serving with him for 12,209 of those days. I look forward to many more days and years together.