June 28th, 2010
11:34 AM ET
4 years ago

Obama: Byrd's story was 'uniquely American'

ALT TEXT

Sen. Byrd "was born into wrenching poverty," President Obama said Monday, "but educated himself to become an authoritative scholar, respected leader, and unparalleled champion of our Constitution." (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

President Obama issued a statement Monday about the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia.

(Read Obama's full statement after the jump)

I was saddened to hear this morning that the people of West Virginia have lost a true champion, the United States Senate has lost a venerable institution, and America has lost a voice of principle and reason with the passing of Robert C. Byrd.

Senator Byrd’s story was uniquely American. He was born into wrenching poverty, but educated himself to become an authoritative scholar, respected leader, and unparalleled champion of our Constitution. He scaled the summit of power, but his mind never strayed from the people of his beloved West Virginia. He had the courage to stand firm in his principles, but also the courage to change over time.

He was as much a part of the Senate as the marble busts that line its chamber and its corridors. His profound passion for that body and its role and responsibilities was as evident behind closed doors as it was in the stemwinders he peppered with history. He held the deepest respect of members of both parties, and he was generous with his time and advice, something I appreciated greatly as a young senator.

We take solace in the fact that he is reunited with his wife of nearly 69 years, Erma; and our thoughts and prayers are with their daughters, their grandchildren and great grandchildren, and all the people of West Virginia who loved Robert C. Byrd.


Filed under: President Obama • Robert Byrd
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. welder and butcher

    totally fascinating life

    June 28, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  2. heather perdue

    God bless you, Mr. President. This is a sad day for all West Virginians, and your words are appreciated by this WV lady.

    June 28, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Thank you for your service, Senator Byrd. My condolences to your family – rest in peace, Sir!

    June 28, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. w l jones

    Mr. Byrd were an institution in the senate a man among men a true American. My condole to his family.

    June 28, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. kat

    While I am truly saddened by his loss, I do strongly believe we need term limits, I have been married for 36 years, have two children and three grandchildren and this guy was in the senate before I was born.. Think about it. How long should these people stay?

    June 28, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. John G

    Robert Byrd was a bigot. These previous posts show how pathetic and hypocritical democrats are. If Robert Byrd was a Republican, he would be vilified and would probably have been forced to resign from the senate. Byrd filibustered the 1964 Voting Rights Act and opposed the army segregating, Byrd was a Grand Wizard in the KKK.

    June 28, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rest in peace Sen Byrd you epitomize the man that pulled himself up by his bootstraps. You spoke loooong and consistently on behalf of those that had little to no voice: coal miners, and the rest of the forgotten citizenry of West Virginia. While I did not agree with some of your 'philosophies' I do hope that you've been reunited with your beloved wife of so many years.

    June 28, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. John G

    Robert Byrd was a bigot. These previous posts show how pathetic and hypocritical democrats are. If Robert Byrd was a Republican, he would be vilified and would probably have been forced to resign from the senate. Byrd filibustered the 1964 Voting Rights Act and opposed the army segregating, Byrd was a Grand Wizard in the KKK.

    June 28, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Venu77

    I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side… Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds
    -Robert Byrd

    Please don't tell me he was an "institution" or a great American. How many media outlets will have the "courage" to post the above quote in his obituary?

    June 28, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. Byrd

    I'm sure senator Byrd did plenty of great things for the US during his time in the senate...However this man was a member of the KKK and an opponent of the Civil rights movement and we should celebrate him as a hero?....And I white male, go figure!!!

    June 28, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. Bill, Bloominton IL

    And his KKK ties are completely forgotten. Because he is a democrat?

    June 28, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  12. Barack.Hussein.Obama-America's-Benevolent-DICTATOR

    Thank you for your service, I think... $13 TRILLION in debt with trillion dollar deficts as the eye can see. Social security and medicare in insolvency with over $100 TRILLION is unfunded liability.

    Byrd and Kennedy, the poster children for TERM LIMITS. FIFTY ONE YEARS is several DECADES TOO MUCH.

    June 28, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. mjm

    Nice nose hairs....which party has the old white racist males again?

    Sorry if we can't feel sorry for the passing of a liberal, socialist racist. The libs can forgive anyone who votes their way....the rest of us can't.

    June 28, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Luke Brown

    Senator Byrd did love his state, his country, the Congress and our Constitution.

    I am a Democrat and I can't help but believe that Senator Byrd was disappointed in the leadership of our Party ... especially Senator Reid, who can't seem to get essential legislation through the Senate in spite of a healthy majority of Democrats. Congress' failure to pass Medicaid funding has already led to devastating cuts in safety net services.

    What's worse is that the GOP members of Congress seem determined to block everything. How long will voters allow this Hate Obama crowd to destroy our country?

    June 28, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. Wisconsinite - the GObP Loves Big Oil, But Hates Suffering Americans

    "While I am truly saddened by his loss, I do strongly believe we need term limits, I have been married for 36 years, have two children and three grandchildren and this guy was in the senate before I was born.. Think about it. How long should these people stay?"

    As long as their constituants keep voting them into office, that's how long. Just like it says in a little thing we call the Constitution.

    June 28, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. Amazed @ the duplicitousness

    May he rest in peace. I will not insult him personally as he cannot defend himself.....

    but w jones...

    "a man among men a true American" ..... are you refering to the same person that was in the KKK at one time?

    June 28, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Ben

    Of course Obama failed to mention Byrd's association with the KKK. He was an Imperial Cyclops or some such. Must have slipped Obama's mind.

    June 28, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. What a Man!!!!

    A Life Well Served....My condolences to your family

    June 28, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  19. wisest one of all

    Join the KKK and become a politician!

    Democraps always show their true colors!

    June 28, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. wilko

    I'm guessing everyone is forgetting his "colorful" adventures in the 1940's. Bear in mind that he was in his mid to late 20's during his Klan years. Certainly not a "young man" as the papers like to say. Not a loss to politics or humanity- not even close.

    June 28, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. Eric

    And also uniquely democrat, where even the historical fact of being a Klansman can be hidden, forgiven and all but denied just so long as they get another lib vote in the Senate. How about a little consistency?

    June 28, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. Scott

    I wonder if he'll be buried in his Klan sheets?

    June 28, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. ehwilson429

    is the unique portion that he was a member of the KKK?
    there are very few people that have ever been in the KKK!

    June 28, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. Tony in Maine

    To honor the man, perhaps the Senate should rewrite the rules to end the tyranny of a minority. The filibuster was always a tool of last resort to prevent the tyranny of the majority – but McConnell and Co have used it as a bludgeon to stop anything the Democrats propose. Presumably, they will then use this paralysis to paint the Democrats as a do-nothing party.

    June 28, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. seebofubar

    Hey Obama, nice words to a man who hated you just for the color of your skin. Don't sugar coat this guy, he was a racist pig.

    June 28, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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