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leonine pacing, his uncanny capacity to capture the attention of every member of the Senate whenever he rises to speak in his rich Mississippi drawl, STENNIS dominated the debate and won all the major votes. (Roger Mudd, NBC Newsman.)
We have in this body a number of Republican Senators and a number of Democratic Senators. And then we have some United States Senators. JOHN STENNIS is a United States Senator. He has always done what he thought was best for his country.
If his code of conduct were followed by all politicians and by all public officials today, we would not have the shaken confidence of the people in the institutions of government. (Senator Lloyd Bentsen, Democrat, Texas.)
JOHN STENNIS' dedication to this country goes far beyond most people who ever served here in the entire history of the country. I really can't imagine the United States Senate without JOHN STENNIS. (Senator Russell Long, Democrat, Louisiana.)
THE ALUMNUS, MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY
Mr. Fatherree. Mr. Chairman, Senator and Mrs. Stennis, President Giles, distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman.
I'm here this morning for the purpose of making a presentation in behalf of our Class. In February, 1972, Senator STENNIS, the Life Secretary of the Class, and I had occasion to discuss the plans for the 50th anniversary of our graduation, which we proudly celebrate here this weekend. At that time he requested that I take the responsibility of working with officials of the University and the Alumni staff in arranging the details of the program. This I gladly agreed to do, and have had the wholehearted cooperation and support of everyone. For this I am most grateful.
As I thought about the occasion, it occurred to me that we should do something very special in honor of our life secretary, who is without a doubt the most distinguished member of our Class—yes the most distinguished graduate of this fine institution. I talked this over with several members of the class as well as with some officials of the University. All were in agreement that it was an excellent idea. The question then was: What could be done? We considered several possibilities, every one of which would supplement the generous gift of his papers to the University, where a suite of rooms has been set aside in the Library and designated "The Stennis Suite." An ancient Bible might have been available, or a shelf of good books on political science. Either would have been appropriate. Finally, we came up with the idea of commissioning a good artist to do a painting of the Senator, to be hung in the Stennis Suite in the Library. This was agreed upon, a contract was made with an artist, and an estimate of the cost received. A decision was then made to proceed with the plan.
We are pleased that that artist is in our midst today, and if she will stand, I would like for us to recognize here, Mrs. Clara Fay West of Columbus, Mississippi. Will Mrs. West please stand? I can't see from up here. I hope she's in the audience.
At any rate, we were then faced with the matter of raising the money and arranging for a sitting without divulging our plans to the Senator. I assumed the responsibility of raising the money from members of the Class, and the Senator was asked to sit for a painting which was to be presented, so he was told, by an anonymous donor. The plan worked perfectly. It was necessary to send only a few letters before the money was in hand, and Senator STENNIS readily agreed to sit for the artist, unaware of our plans.
With this brief background, I now come to formally present and unveil a painting of United States Senator JOHN CORNELIUS STENNIS, a member of the Class of 1923, and the junior United States Senator from Mississippi since 1947, a period of more than a quarter of a century. Mississippi has had no greater, no more dedicated statesman in her long and proud history. In presenting this painting, I feel that his life and record of public service
speak for themselves, and are too well known for me to list his many accomplishments and honors, to say nothing of the well deserved esteem which he has gained nationally, and the credit he has brought to his alma mater, his State and his Nation. He is truly a man among men, one who can walk with those in highest places—legislators, judges, generals, admirals, yes, even with Presidents, with the humble, share their problems, concerns and yearnings—truly, the marks of a great man, judged by any standards. Occupying positions of power, he uses such power with intelligence and care, to the interest of building a better world. A man of tremendous energy, understanding and character, it was to this man the United States Senate turned when it needed to develop a Code of Ethics for its membership, and how well they chose!
I am told that during the trying days immediately following the recent senseless tragedy that struck him down, and while he literally lay at death's door, he was thinking not so much of himself, of his responsibility, but of a Prayer Meeting which was his responsibility, the President's Prayer Breakfast.
We're delighted that he is here today. Our continuous prayer is that he will soon be completely recovered and able once again to resume his useful and effective work in the United States Senate and elsewhere.
And now, Mr. President, it is my great pleasure and honor on behalf of the Class of 1923, to present this likeness of our beloved friend of more than half a century. It's our hope that those who look upon it here will be reminded of those noble virtues with which he is so richly endowed, and further, that many young Mississippians may be motivated by his record to follow in his footsteps as they work and study here in preparation for lives of services. In so doing they can, and I quote the Senator, “find the Light that comes from Above, which will guide them aright," as it has certainly guided him. The painting will now be unveiled by little Mr. Hamp Stennis, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Hampton Stennis of Jackson, and the grandson of Senator and Mrs. Stennis. (Unveiling).
Thank you, little Hamp.
I'm asked to announce that the painting will be on display in the Stennis Suite in the Mitchell Library this afternoon, so those of you who do not have an opportunity to see it at close range will be able to see it there.
Thank you very much.
Now the President of Mississippi State University, Dr. Giles, will come to make the acceptance.
Mr. Giles. Mr. Fatherree, as President of Mississippi State University, I do accept for the University this splendid portrait of our distinguished alumnus, Senator JOHN C. STENNIS.
You know, in the long history of mankind there have been times, and there are times now, when it seems that we have many leaders who take us through the difficult times. This was so when this great Nation of ours was founded. It seemed that we had great leadership in the country, simply by the dozen. There have been other times in the history of mankind when there has been a dearth of leadership. It is at these times that somehow, God in His wisdom has selected a few to take positions of leadership. These leaders, unlike times when leadership is here in plenty, have a special burden. Our own Senator JOHN C. STENNIS is one of those selected by the Lord in a time when there is a dearth of leadership in the land, and it has been on his shoulders that heavy burdens have fallen. Therefore, we are especially pleased and proud that Mississippi State University not only can claim him, but to have this splendid portrait of him so those who follow us can see the likeness of the person who was a great leader in times like these.
Senator STENNIS, we're proud, and we do accept this portrait.
Mr. Fatherree. Thank you, Dr. Giles, and at this time we give an invitation to Senator STENNIS to respond if he cares to do so.
Senator STENNIS. Dr. Giles, members of the Class of 1923, and other fellow alumni, and other friends:
Even though I knew that the presentation of this portrait was to be a part of the program this morning, I certainly find that I'm not prepared for it, but I am grateful and I want to especially thank the Class of 1923. And no man's ever been indebted to fellow classmates more than I have, not only while we were here but during those years that have intervened. I want to especially thank them for this wonderful tribute and for the spirit behind it, and for all of the words that your able spokesman said in the presentation.
And as a member of that class, friends, let me say especially to my classmates that T.B. Fatherree has carried a great part of the load of the life secretary, especially during most of the years that I've been in Washington, and more especially the last few years, and altogether this year. I know how much work he's put in, and he's had some very fine helpers. I want to thank him especially as one member of the class and as your life secretary, and I know you feel those sentiments yourselves.
Let me say again to the membership, that I've appreciated you and remembered you all these years with the utmost satisfaction and profit. I have no prepared speech this morning, my friends. I didn't think the occasion was such that I could or should. I do want you to indulge me a few minutes here with just a little passing thought. This is a kind of day of firsts for me. This is my first venture out from the hospital to which I must return, so my first venture was a happy one to make tracks again on this wonderful campus. I have another first that comes to mind, too. It was here that I first met my wife, Miss Coy, and I want to thank her, too, for all these years—not quite fifty yet, that she's brought me of happiness and help, spelled out in the biggest kind of ways.
I have another first here, too. I finally found my first doctor, and I'll say something special about him in a minute, that actually prescribed all play and no work. And that's the prescription he has me on right now at this interval, so I said we'll adopt that, and I want you to let me go down to Mississippi State on April 14. But I told him that I don't feel that I can go without a doctor along with me, and I said, “Now what can you do about that?" He said, “Well, I've been hinting for an invitation to go down there,” so I was delighted. He brought me along—I wasn't exactly bringing him. I want to impose on him for just a minute this morning, to especially introduce him to you and I'm going to ask him to take a bow. But I do want to introduce him to you now in a special way a man that has become my friend in the last several weeks, the man that led a fine team of surgeons, a fine young man, one of the prizes of the Army Medical Corps, and one of the finest surgeons in his field in the United States; the man that with the help of Providence and with the help of a team of surgeons backing him up—I have no doubt about it, he saved my life and it is with special pleasure that I ask him to take a bow: Colonel Robert Muir, United States Army Medical Corps.
Now friends, as I say, you know where my heart is, I don't have to praise you nor praise Mississippi State. And I have no prepared remarks but I do