REMEMBERING LADY BIRD JOHNSON -- (Senate - July 19, 2007)
Mr. BIDEN. Madam President, so much has been said about the various parts of Lady Bird Johnson's life, as one of our most beloved First Ladies, as a loving mother and grandmother, as the mother of the conservation movement, and as a skilled businesswoman. But there is another aspect all of us in this body appreciate, and that is her mark on this Chamber.
Before the Johnsons left Washington in January 1969, they came to the Capitol to say farewell. And the ever gracious Lady Bird Johnson, who had watched her husband serve as a Senator and a majority leader, said:
When we say goodbye to Washington, the address of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was a small span of time for us in comparison to the years that we spent closely affiliated with this building.
She knew how to use this building. She was the first First Lady to ever undertake a major legislative effort--the Highway Beautification Act of 1965. Four decades later, her efforts still bloom on our highways in every region of this country, and in this city.
She did what each of us, and all of us combined, come here to do--leave America better than we found it. Her achievement is all the more remarkable because it was a trying period in our Nation's history. A President had been assassinated, we were divided by Vietnam, there were riots in our cities over desegregation.
But she understood nature belongs to every single one of us, and we have an obligation to pay nature back. As President Johnson said, when he signed the law:
There is a part of America which was here long before we arrived, and will be here, if we preserve it, long after we depart.
As Mrs. Johnson departs, we thank her for her preservation. We thank her for lining every corner of the country with flowers that we all enjoy.
And we thank her for teaching us that preservation and beauty go beyond the wildflowers, to the need to deal with pollution and urban decay and other problems that are too prevalent in our country and world today.
Jill and I are thinking of her daughters, Lynda and Luci, their families--and, in particular, Senator Robb, who served this body so well.