TRIBUTE TO SENATORS -- (Senate - November 20, 2008)
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Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I come to the floor this afternoon with tremendously mixed emotions to visit with all of you and with our country about Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.
Many have said much about this great man. I will not say a great deal, but I will try to express it in an emotional way for a fellow I have known of for 28 years and have known personally for 18 years.
So let me visit for a moment as a westerner, as somebody from a public lands State, where the Federal Government is, in many instances, dominant over the lives of small communities and citizens in a way that most of you from nonpublic lands States wouldn't ever appreciate. I know that passion. I, every day of my life, in working with Ted Stevens, sensed that passion in a way that if you are not from a public lands State, if you do not have an agency or a bureaucrat dictating to you about the lives of your citizens and your people, you would simply never understand.
But Ted grasped that early on and without question has been the champion of his State and their citizens in a way that no other Senator has been. I have so tremendously respected that.
I have been in and out of Alaska several times in my tenure as a Senator or as a Congressman. I will close with an expression given to me by a cab driver in Anchorage that says more to me about this man than anything I could possibly say myself.
I was en route from downtown Anchorage, Ted, to the Ted Stevens International Airport. We rounded the curve and pulled up. As I exited the cab, I looked up, and there was your name. I said: Oh, my, Ted's got an airport. That is neat.
And the cab driver said, ``Do you know Uncle Ted?''
I said, ``Well, yes, I do. I work for him in the Senate.''
He said ``You do?''
I said ``Sure do.''
He said, ``Give him my best when you get back to Washington because, as an Alaskan, I know of no other person who has done more for my State than Uncle Ted.''
Well, Ted Stevens now knows why I call him Uncle Ted more often than not. I view that as a much more affectionate term than Senator Stevens because, as I was flying out of that great State and headed down the coast, looking off to my left at those phenomenal mountains and expanses of wilderness and public lands and resources, I thought: If any one person deserves the credit for taking this phenomenal region of our world and providing reasonable points of life for so many of its citizens, it is Uncle Ted Stevens.
Uncle Ted, I am going to miss you. This Senate will miss you. Your State will miss you. And America will miss you.
Thank you for your service.