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1/12/2005

Byrd to Publish Memoirs

The Last True Patriot in Washington....
Story Photo


U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd has written his memoirs, and they'll be published here in his home state.

West Virginia University Press will release the autobiography June 15. The 700-page book is called "Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields."

The book chronicles the Democratic senator's life, from his boyhood in the 1920s to his election in 2000, when he won an unprecedented eighth term in the U.S. Senate.

It will sell for $35 in hardback.

Byrd's last book was a best seller. "Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency" focused on his concerns with the Bush administration's domestic and foreign policies, including its handling of the war in Iraq. His previous works include a four-volume history of the U.S. Senate and a history of the Roman Senate.

The 87-year-old senator is the former chairman and current ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was elected to the Senate in 1958.


In 2000, West Virginia voters elected Robert C. Byrd to an eighth consecutive six-year term in the Senate. The following year, Byrd received what he considers his greatest honor when Gov. Bob Wise and both houses of the West Virginia Legislature named him "West Virginian of the 20th Century."

As Congress gaveled into session last week, Byrd celebrated 52 years of Washington service. Of the nearly 12,000 men and women who have sworn the congressional oath of office, only two have served longer.

He has earned the trust and respect of West Virginians for more than a half century. Or should have.

Last Sunday, in a "Movers & Shakers" column, Sen. Vic Sprouse, R-Kanawha, disappointed us with his disrespect for the senior senator (in last Monday’s edition of The Beckley Register-Herald).

Sprouse pointed out that Byrd is up for re-election in 2006, and brings out reasons why he can be defeated.

"Byrd has become a caricature, not a real person," Sprouse wrote. "Because Byrd lives in Virginia, works in D.C. and only comes back to West Virginia every year or so, he has lost touch with West Virginia."

Is that so? For someone who has lost touch with this state, he sure does an awful lot for it.

Byrd's support of West Virginia over the years would be tough to measure strictly in dollars. The total would be in the billions. West Virginians can thank Robert Byrd for almost every mile of the state's highway system. Before he was elected, the state had four miles of divided highway; today, about 37,000 miles. West Virginians can thank Robert Byrd for the FBI fingerprint facility in Clarksburg. He almost single-handedly delivered the prize, and thousands of jobs, to the Mountain State.

Thanks to Robert Byrd, West Virginia's National Guard is ranked as the nation's very best.
West Virginians can thank Robert Byrd for state-of-the-art federal buildings in Beckley, Charleston and Wheeling, and the thousands of jobs that come with them.

West Virginians can thank Robert Byrd for locks and dams, the world's largest telescope at Green Bank, health centers, research centers, academic and technology centers, community centers, libraries, industrial parks.
The list goes on and on.

Sprouse added that young people "only know Byrd as a name on a road sign. People in their 30s and 40s only know Byrd as the King of Pork." Byrd's response? "One man's pork is another man's job. Pork has been a good investment in West Virginia."

The story of Robert Carlyle Byrd is a classic American saga of hard work, success and achievement. For more than half a century, he has been a visionary. He has been an exceptional friend and public servant for the people of this state. Countless roads, public works and jobs attest to his labor.
And he has no apologies to make.

Sprouse is young, smart and appears to have a good political career ahead of him. One lesson that needs learning, though, is to "walk the walk" of Sen. Byrd before he "talks the talk."

Now 87, Byrd soon has a decision to make — whether to seek another six years in the Senate. He hasn't yet indicated if he'll run again. If he does, rest assured West Virginia will be a better place for it.

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