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Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, about 10 years ago, one of our dear friends, the Senator from Georgia, Paul Coverdell, was unexpectedly taken from us. He became ill and passed away. Here we are 10 years later, and we wish to commemorate his life and service. His good friends, the Senators from Georgia, Mr. Chambliss and Mr. Isakson, are both here. We all want to say a few words about our departed friend Paul Coverdell.
Paul was a patriot. I admired him a great deal. Nobody worked harder than Paul Coverdell, and nobody wanted less credit for it. We were talking on the floor a few moments ago. Senator Lott, who was the Republican leader at the time, used to call him Mikey. What he meant by that was some character we believe was in a commercial named Mikey who always got the job done and didn't care where the credit ended up. That is exactly how Paul was. No matter how tough the task, no matter how thankless the job, Paul was ready to pitch in with good humor and credible persistence and see it through to completion.
He had a distinguished career in the private sector before he entered public life. He spent a long time toiling in the Georgia State Senate before he came here. In fact, he used to joke that he knew all too well what it was like to be an underdog because he spent 15 years representing all five Republicans in the Georgia State Senate against 51 Democrats. That gives one a certain humility, shall I say.
Paul's deep understanding of the power of freedom is well known, and his efforts to promote and spread freedom are a big part of his legacy. As Director of the Peace Corps in the late 1980s, Paul sent the first Peace Corps volunteers into Eastern Europe to work with nations about to experience freedom for the very first time.
In a speech he delivered shortly before his death, Paul said:
I believe that in the 20th century, America has helped plant the seeds of democracy and freedom around the world. I hope that when the stories are written at the end of this new century, it is said of this nation that we tended to liberty, nurtured it around the world, and sustained freedom and prosperity here in this Hemisphere.
That was Paul shortly before his death.
He served in this Chamber for nearly a decade, and those of us who served alongside him know he never, ever sought the spotlight. He was a decent hard-working guy who was dedicated to his wife Nancy, the people of Georgia, the American people, and to promoting what he called the three pillars of freedom: economic liberty, security for persons and property, and a well-educated citizenry. Paul often said that an uneducated mind can never truly be free. It is an idea he shared with the men who founded our Nation. As Washington put it in his first annual address to Congress:
Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.
As with all the lessons Paul liked to share, he delivered it with a smile.
Paul is deeply missed by all of us in this room, but his contributions are lasting. Ten years after his sudden passing, we continue to learn from the life and example of Paul Coverdell.
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