Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Almost Heaven

I have a soft spot in my heart for West Virginia, where I lived for a year after law school and clerked for a federal judge. Even though West Virginia has historically had it tough, West Virginians are, by and large, some of the most generous and friendly people you will ever know.

So it was with some sadness that I saw yesterday that West Virginia's great longtime advocate, Senator Robert C. Byrd, passed away Sunday night, after serving almost 6o years in Congress. I've been told that at the time Senator Byrd came into office, there were no more than 50 miles of paved road in the entire state of West Virginia. The self-educated senator did everything in his power to improve West Virginia, and although he made mistakes along the way, his life was defined by his service and commitment to his state.

I had the privilege of meeting Senator Byrd at the federal courthouse in Charleston in 1998, and I honestly felt like I touched a piece of history when I shook his hand. The judge for whom I clerked gave me a beautiful copy of the Senator's The Senate of the Roman Republic, which is inscribed to me and signed by the man himself. There aren't many objects in the world I treasure, but that book is one of them.

Goodbye, Senator Byrd, I'm glad we had a chance to meet. I hope you know that West Virginians aren't the only ones who will miss you.

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