Byrd, D-W.Va., recently marked his 90th birthday. He was joined personally for the occasion by many leading West Virginians, including all of our other members of Congress and Gov. Joe Manchin. The mood at a celebration held in Washington, D.C., was one of celebration, according to reports.
We suspect that a certain amount of awe was involved, too. In many ways, Byrd is an awesome man — one whose influence is enormous within our state, in our nation and often, internationally.
The senator has served on Capitol Hill for more than half a century, beginning with three terms in the House of Representatives. From there, he was elected to the Senate in 1958. He has served there longer than anyone in history. Earlier this year he became the first senator to cast 18,000 roll call votes.
But there is much, much more to Byrd than a long term in public office. His has been a record-setting period of very real service.
One particularly interesting statistic about the senator — revealing of his drive and dedication — is that he has what the Senate itself refers to as an “extraordinary” lifetime attendance record of nearly 99 percent. To Byrd, “public service” is more than a campaign slogan.
His success in helping the Mountain State is legendary. His skill as a lawmaker is — to his foes, at least — intimidating. His insistence on principles as a guide to conduct is as hard as the rocks crowning many of our hills. His knowledge and perceptiveness concerning state, national and international affairs is piercing. His courage in fighting for what he believes is right is unshakable. And the regard, both personally and professionally, in which he is held by others in government is deep and well-founded.
And, again, those qualities remain vibrant and often on display as Byrd goes about his chosen endeavor of being a strong, effective leader for our state and nation.
The senator’s 90th birthday, then, is cause for celebration — not just of a long life, but also of the way in which Byrd continues to live it. We join his many admirers, then, in thanking him for his service, and wishing him, “Happy birthday!”