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When Senator STENNIS first came to this body, he said in his classic direct style, “I wish to plow a straight furrow right down to the end of my row.” There is no doubt he did exactly that. Senator STENNIS grew up on a farm and he knew how difficult it was to plow a straight furrow with a mule. You cannot plow a straight line to your immediate goal or mark a stake in the field unless you keep your eye on the distant point that establishes your sight line. That is the way JOHN STENNIS lived. He staked out his immediate goals, but he always kept his eye on the distant goal, the values and principles that enabled him to plow a straight furrow right to the end of the row.
Mr. President, I also remember well his advice to me when I came to the Senate. I hope I never will forget this. He said, "Sam, some new Senators grow and some simply swell. Make sure you continue to grow.”
Mr. President, no higher honor has come my way than serving in the Senate with JOHN STENNIS. When he retired a few years back, I said then it was hard for me to imagine the Senate without JOHN STENNIS at his desk. It is now hard for me to imagine the Nation without the benefit of his talent, counsel, and his sterling example. We will miss him. We will all miss him. But his legacy of integrity and devoted service to the country will inspire the Senate and the Nation and young people particularly for generations to come.
Mr. President, Colleen, my wife, and I extend our sympathies to his son, John Hampton Stennis, his daughter, Mrs. Margaret Stennis Womble, and to all of his grandchildren and great grandchildren, indeed, to all of his family and his friends, and we thank the people of Mississippi for sending this giant to the Senate for the number of years that he served. The people of Mississippi and the people of this Nation can be very proud of Senator STENNIS. He will be remembered in history as one of the giants of the Senate. As long as there is a Senate, JOHN STENNIS will be remembered for his service, for his integrity, and for his character.
I thank the Chair.
Mr. HOLLINGS. Mr. President, I wish to pay honor today to one of the great Senators of this century, JOHN CORNELIUS STENNIS. His roots began at the turn of the century as a young farmboy, in the fertile soil of Kemper County, MS. And while his subsequent career was to take him to far away places, and to positions of great honor in our Nation's Government, his beloved home country was never far from his
mind. Second only to service to his Nation, his dedication to the State of Mississippi was legendary.
He had amassed a distinguished record of public service, even before coming to the Senate in 1947. A Phi Betta Kappa law school graduate, he served as a State Representative, district attorney, and State circuit court judge. But it was here in the Senate where we shall best remember him. For more than 42 years, this Nation had the benefit of his wisdom and his guidance. He was the epitome of a Southern gentleman, and fairness and integrity were constants in his conduct. It was no mere happenstance that he was our first chairman of the Select Committee on Standards and Conduct. He was for decades the foremost guardian of our Nation's defense, forcefully and relentlessly pursuing strong defense programs throughout the Cold War years. His credentials as “Mr. Defense” made even more remarkable his misgivings and warnings to the Nation on involvement in combat in Vietnam, and he was a major author of our first war powers legislation. Chairman of Armed Services, chairman of Appropriations, President Pro Tempore his achievements here on this floor and in this body have been equaled by few.
And who among us who knew him will ever forget his quiet courage? He quietly brushed aside the impacts of being shot and robbed while walking home. Years later, after loosing a leg to cancer, he refused to yield to adversity-always rising to address this body, exuding dignity and determination with every action.
JOHN STENNIS was a patriot-a statesman-a Senator in the finest traditions of the word. He was one of the great lions of our assembly, and we will miss him. I read today where he once responded to a question about how he would like to be remembered. He said he hoped that one could say of him that “He did his best." Well, that he did. And his best will serve as a reminder and a standard to all of us,
generations to come.
Mr. President, the distinguished Senator from Georgia has touched on it when he said I wish to hoe a straight furrow right down the field, that was JOHN STENNIS. I can hear him now. He had those sayings about not swelling but growing in experience. The reverence and respect at that particular time was for Senators listening and learning and profiting from experience. Now the pledge is when you come to town you are not going to listen to anybody; you have a contract. You are going to vote for it. And by the way, do not give me any of your experience because in 6 years I am gone. It is an entirely different atmosphere.
And when you see, as the Senator from Georgia has said in such eloquent terms, one of the finest, I am just deeply moved.
JOHN STENNIS and I became very close amid serving on committees together, particularly the Appropriations Committee later on.
But his family—the Peden clan—was from Fountain Inn, South Carolina, where Mr. Quillen was born along with other persons of eminence.
Invariably he would come back to South Carolina for the annual Peden clan reunion.
I figured, like the Senator from Georgia, that he was my sort of patron and leader. I listened to him many a time. I can tell you this. JOHN STENNIS was a man of this institution. We have Senator Byrd, who really reveres the Senate as an institution. JOHN STENNIS revered the U.S. Senate as an institution.
And as much as we liked each other and as close friends as we were, when I was chairman of the Budget Committee, he followed it very, very closely. When I was chairman back in 1980, he would say, “Fritz, you're right. We have to somehow pay our bills. We are eating our seed corn.” He would make a little talk on the floor, not only with respect to military affairs, with tremendous authority, but with respect to fiscal matters.
And later on, when I was not the chairman of the committee, but I talked to him and tried to get a vote with respect to that budget, he would say, “I'm sticking with the chairman.” I know how you feel about this, but we have got to stay with the chairman.”
I can hear him now. He was an institution man. And that says a lot for the stability of the body and the courtesy here and the ethics that we have. He set the highest standard of anybody I have ever known.
I will never forget the afternoon he was shot. Invariably, we would get together down at the gym there at this time, 6:30 going on 7 o'clock, and get a workout. He said, “You've got to try to keep up with Strom.” That is my senior Senator. He said, “You will find if you stay in good physical shape, you will be able to keep up with Strom.”
We would work out. They had this wheel that you get down on your knees and you go forward and pull it backward and forward, and everything else. He was on that wheel the
afternoon he was shot. He left, if I remember correctly, about 6:15 and he was shot about 6:30 or 6:45.
He later related, when I went to see him, he said: “You know, I'm lucky. These fellows told me they wanted money and I did not have any money. And I said, “Take my watch, anything else, my ring."
And they cursed him and just fired five shots into his middle, his stomach, pancreas, and lungs—his insides.
He walked up to his house and talked to Miss Coy, Mrs. Stennis, his wife. He said, "Call an ambulance and call Walter Reed."
The ambulance came. And as they lifted him up, he remembered well hearing the chief of police, who had reached the home at that time, saying, “All right, take him over to George Washington Hospital.” He raised up on that stretcher—the last he ever remembered, he said, prior to coming to some 9 hours later—and said, “Take me to Walter Reed. They are waiting for me there."
He said that was the real fortunate part, because when he got to Walter Reed, they had two Army surgeons who had finished a 2-week lecture course to the Army surgeons around the country on bullet wounds and shrapnel wounds and battlefield surgery and that kind of thing, particularly with respect to the loss of blood.
His operation took 9 hours. I will never forget him saying that. He said, “Had they not had that hard experience of when to stop and replenish and when to move forward . They had to sew up all his innards or he would have been long since gone.
He came back and, as Senator Nunn points out, he did not slow down at all. Later, when the cancer got his legs, he did not.
As Senator Cochran pointed out—who sits at the STENNIS desk-he believed in this institution. He attended regularly all the sessions. He attended these debates.
I think television has ruined us all. Perhaps some would listen back in their offices. But you do not have the open exchange in the most deliberative body. You are here and get quips that staff gives you. They have prepared remarks and they run out and the Record is full and it appears it is a deliberative effort. Not at all.
Senator STENNIS did not like that, and he said so. He attended the debates. He attended all the votes and he kept going until the very, very end.
Unfortunately, he was not as conscious and alert as he could have been the last few years. I wanted to go to see him, but my staff who worked intimately with him on the Armed Services Committee and later on the Appropriations Committee, said that, “Poor JOHN would not recognize you right now."
So he has gone to his just reward after the most distinguished career in the U.S. Senate of over 41 years.
He was a Senator's Senator if there ever was one in this body. He was not only, as pointed out, an outstanding authority on military affairs, but he had that fundamental feel of paying the bills and being straightforward in his treatment here with all the Senators and setting the highest standard of ethical conduct that you could possibly imagine.
We need that inspiration today that, unfortunately, we do not have. We are all going to miss him very, very badly.
I am sorry tomorrow I cannot be at the session relative to the continued debate on product liability. I want to attend those services. But we will be back here at 4:45.
But it is good that we have those who have served with him and remember him so well that will be there and be with his family. His daughter retired first in Charleston, where her husband was the dean at the College of Charleston and later up in Greenville, South Carolina. So I am looking forward to seeing that family.
But I will never forget the inspiration he has given for all of us who have served with him to continue to serve.
WEDNESDAY, April 26, 1995.
Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of Senate Resolution 111, submitted earlier today by Senators Dole, Daschle, Cochran, and Lott.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report. The legislative clerk read as follows: A resolution (S. Res. 111) relative to the death of the Honorable JOHN C. STENNIS, late a Senator from the State of Mississippi.
The Senate proceeded to consider the resolution.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the resolution is considered and agreed to.
So the resolution (S. Res. 111) was agreed to, as follows: