Recent weeks were marked by remembering influential lives in our nation’s Capitol.
On Oct. 23, senators and family members of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens gathered to unveil his leadership portrait in the Old Senate Chamber in the U.S. Capitol.
It is tradition that senators in leadership positions are recognized with portraits hung in or around the Capitol. An Alaskan, Stevens served as Senate President Pro Tempore, the second highest-ranking member in the U.S. Senate.
Taxpayers do not fund these portraits. Fundraising committees are set up with private donations.
Stevens, who was known among colleagues for wearing an Incredible Hulk tie, was born in Indiana and raised in California. He served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
Stevens was killed in a plane crash in 2010 at the age of 86.
His wife and other members of his family attemded the unveiling.
Several senators from both sides of the aisle spoke about Stevens’ life and legacy, including Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, members of the Alaska congressional delegation and current Senate leadership.
Roberts shared this personal anecdote, “I had been in the Senate for just a few months when Ted cornered me on the Senate floor, jabbed me in my shoulder and said, ‘You’re coming with me to North Korea. Don’t argue with me, [Bob] Dole says you are Mr. Agriculture. You don’t have to say anything, just nod your head.’ He was trying to arrange a third-party grain sale to alleviate constant famines in North Korea.”
The next day, Congressman Elijah Cummings’ life was celebrated in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. A spokesperson said Cummings died from “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.”
At the age of 68, Cummings died on Oct. 17 and was the first black lawmaker to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol. Since 1996, Cummings served as the congressman for Maryland’s 7th district, which includes Baltimore.
Prior to his death, Cummings served as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, where he led investigations of alleged wrongdoing in the Trump administration.
Despite the two men’s heated words, Trump tweeted, “My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!”
Editor’s note: Seymour Klierly writes Washington Whispers for the Journal from inside the Beltway.