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Public Statements

Tribute to Senators

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

TRIBUTE TO SENATORS -- (Senate - October 01, 2008)



Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, it is a privilege to speak today about my good friend and colleague, JOHN WARNER, who it has been an honor to serve with in the Senate for almost 25 years.

At age 17, JOHN enlisted in the Navy to serve our country during World War II. After that, he attended Washington and Lee University on the GI bill and went on to study law at the University of Virginia. In 1950, he interrupted his legal education to deploy to Korea as a marine, eventually attaining the rank of captain before receiving his law degree in 1953. Sixteen years later, John was appointed Under Secretary of the Navy, and in 1972 rose to become Secretary of the Navy. In 1978, the people of Virginia elected him their Senator, and he has represented them and the rest of our country with courage and dedication for over 30 years.

In particular, John has fought relentlessly for our men and women in uniform in his leadership role as chairman and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. He has always had a special place in his heart for our country's veterans. His background as a sailor, marine, and Navy Secretary gave him the experience and insight needed to address extraordinarily complicated and wide-ranging issues of vital importance to our country's defense. Today he is recognized by all as one of our country's foremost experts on national security matters, and someone whose record of bipartisanship is simply unmatched.

That is a legend's biography, and through it courses the public virtues of service, patriotism, grace and high-mindedness in a way few have seen, but I know many will read about.

On a personal note, one of my fondest memories of JOHN was of a debate between us that occurred on the Senate floor. It was late one night in June 2006, and I had proposed a resolution setting a deadline on our combat presence in Iraq that wasn't a popular position at that time. I was clearly outnumbered, and the debate became heated and personal. In fact, my plan received only 13 votes, and Senator Warner wasn't one of them.

But even in times of disagreement, John had no trouble rising above partisan bickering in service of a higher purpose. In the best traditions and practices of the Senate, he rose to speak and engaged me in a respectful and substantive dialogue on a controversial issue that calmed the Senate chamber and I hope informed the American public.

I want to close by saying that I, the people of Virginia and this country are grateful for John's distinguished service and will miss him dearly. I wish him and his family my very best and look forward to continuing to receive his wise counsel in the years ahead.


Mr. President, for the past 12 years, I have had the privilege of serving in the Senate with my friend CHUCK HAGEL. Upon his retirement from the Senate, I wanted to take a moment to tell him how much he will be dearly missed. CHUCK HAGEL will be missed not just by his colleagues in the Senate, but also by those Americans for whom he is dedicated his career to fight while serving in Washington, DC.

Although we sit on opposite sides of the aisle, I have found myself standing with Senator Hagel on numerous occasions. Just in the past couple of years, we have fought for increased pay for our troops, establishing a center dedicated to the rehabilitation, treatment, and research of service members blinded in combat, and advocating for additional mental health care resources for service members returning from combat.

Because of Senator Hagel's dedication to stand up for those who have fought for our country, we have a modernized GI bill. We have a GI bill that more accurately reflects the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform are making. A modernized benefits package that will cover the majority of tuition costs for our returning service members, and I was proud to stand with him in that effort as well.

His service to our country has been truly admirable. Senator Hagel has had a truly remarkable career representing the State of Nebraska. I thank him for his service to our country. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.

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