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Public Statements

Remembering Senator Craig Thomas

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. HAGEL. Madam President, this is a sad day for all of us. Wyoming and the Senate have lost Craig Thomas. He was a neighbor. He was a friend. He was an individual whose life was committed to his country and his State.

Often, when he would refer to my State of Nebraska, he would say: Oh, yes, that State of Nebraska; that is where Wyoming sends all of its wind. He said other things as well. Many times, he and Senator Enzi were responsible for stealing Nebraska's water. Other than those obvious flaws, Craig Thomas was one of those unique individuals whom we have heard his colleagues speak of this morning. None have exaggerated in their descriptions of this remarkable man. He, as has been noted, was a marine. He was a straight shooter. He was born and raised on a ranch in Wyoming. When you add all of that up, what else could he be but a straight shooter?

He worked hard, as has been noted here this morning. Chairman Lugar outlined some of the participation of Craig Thomas on the Foreign Relations Committee where I, too, had an opportunity to serve with him. No one was ever better prepared when he spoke, more knowledgeable of the subject matter, and more a joy to be around because he never lost the most important element of each of us; that is, a humanness, the human dynamic. He had a special humanity that is not always easy to retain in this town and in this business. But that is what Craig Thomas was, and I think that is what most of us admired most about him.

If service to America is one of America's highest and most important values, then Craig Thomas's legacy speaks volumes because that was his life. Lilibet and I offer our sympathy and our prayers to Susan and to the family. He served with great distinction and always put others first.

One last comment about a memory of Craig Thomas for me. In 1996, when I was campaigning for my first elective office to the U.S. Senate and when there was a very legitimate question of whether I was worthy of election and whether I could win, Craig Thomas flew over from Wyoming to central Nebraska and spent a day campaigning with me in 1996. Craig was the first U.S. Senator to help me, to come into my State, and that day I spent with him talking about water issues, agricultural issues, the Marine Corps, and service to our country inspired all who were around him. I noted that those ranchers and those water resource specialists and others whom we visited on that campaign tour that day responded to him in a way that was rather special. I later learned through my almost 11 years in the Senate why people responded to him in such a special way.

We will miss him. He leaves our institution, his State, and his country better than he found them.

Thank you.

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