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

Obama: Byrd's story was 'uniquely American'


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. KH

    His life was a "uniquely American story" indeed. A great man who gave great service to this country. All its citizens should be grateful and sad today.

    May he rest in peace.

    June 28, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. Willy Brown

    Mr. Byrd was the King of Pork!

    June 28, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Real Patriot

    What an intelligent man, and an example of how a person can make mistakes and apologize for them and make things right again.

    June 28, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. Joe

    Byrd epitomized the American ideal of getting what you want through hard work and perseverance. It's a shame that so few people subscribe to that "quaint" old notion anymore.

    June 28, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. 2pacolypse Now

    Eventhough I believe we sorely need term limits, this is not the day or forum that I will use to scream for it. No matter what you may think of Mr. Byrd overall, The man was walking American History at it's best and sometimes at it's worse. His life is the embodiment of practically every period of America from The Great Depression on to present. America lost a piece of it's history today no matter your personal feelings towards him and my condolences go out to his family and friends who knew him than man better than we did.

    June 28, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  6. alix

    byrd was a racist but nobody's says anything as usual

    June 28, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    w l jones June 28th, 2010 12:16 pm ET

    Mr. Byrd were an institution in the senate a man among men a true American. My condole to his family.
    Ummmmmm, "true American" .... does that also include the time he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan which he held the title of Kleagle (recruiter) and Exalted Cyclops?

    June 28, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. Jason

    Funny, how we forget his pass...thank God for WIKIpedia... this man had done some wrong...a member of the KKK for over 9yrs and wrote papers after that supporting segregation while in the US Congress...

    June 28, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
1 2