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Tribute to Lamar Alexander

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 2, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, I don't want to prolong this discussion except to make one additional point about the unselfishness and humility of this hero of the Senate, whose remarks we will long remember today.

There is a framed piece of legislation that hangs on the wall in my conference room in the Dirksen Building. It is, in fact, a piece of legislation that Senator Alexander chose to mention as one of his signature accomplishments, and that is the American History and Civics Education Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. There is a story about how I came to have that piece of legislation, which Senator Alexander worked so hard on, on the wall in my conference room.

I live in North Mississippi, and, as such, I listen to Memphis television a lot. During Lamar Alexander's first race for Senator, on came a commercial, and, basically, it said just what our friend from Texas just quoted--that this candidate for Senator, former Governor Lamar Alexander, wanted to pass an American civics education bill to teach our children what it means to be an American. I stopped at that moment, and I pointed to that television screen, and I said: If that man gets elected, I want to be part of that bill because that is exactly what we need.

So Senator Alexander introduced the bill here in the Senate. I introduced it in the House of Representatives. We made public appearances together, one in Memphis, TN, that I will always remember. Eventually, the bill gained a lot of support over here, and Senator Kennedy, as has been mentioned, was someone at the forefront of that effort.

We were able to pass it in the House. It went to conference to iron out the details, and a decision had to be made as to which one would actually be enacted by both Houses and go to the President for his signature.

Lamar Alexander allowed the piece of legislation introduced by a relatively junior Member of the House named Roger Wicker to be that piece of legislation that went on to the White House, to the Oval Office, to be signed by the President of the United States.

So that is how that piece of legislation hangs on my wall as a bill authored by Representative Roger Wicker but passed very much with the efforts of Senator Alexander also.

I just wanted to mention that, not to prolong this discussion but to mention that act of selflessness and humility as another attribute of this great Senator to whom we say farewell today.

I think the remarks we heard from Senator Alexander will be taught at civics classes and college-level government classes for decades and decades to come. It was so profound, and it is a real honor that a piece of legislation that he and I worked on together will always be a part of what I consider to be those immortal remarks.

So I thank you very much.