An exemplar to forever look up to (Rep. Nick Rahall)

He was fearless about speaking out, thinking his opinion just as good as anyone else's. He could not be intimidated, neither by political power nor physical stature. Like a stern and loving father, he would not hesitate to lecture a wayward member of Congress, or even a president, and express his disappointment.

He saw every man as his equal, neither more nor less than he.

He liked workhorses; not show horses. He shunned bluster, pageantry, and demagoguery. He abhorred laziness.

He prized innovative, tactical parliamentary and political combat. He relished the idea of one brave Congressman bucking conventional wisdom, and sometimes overwhelming opinion back home, to cast a vote of conscience.

He always worked harder to be better prepared. He never wanted to give an adversary any advantage. He insisted on proper spelling, grammar and sentence structure. Anything less could be seen as an inadvertent confession of weakness or disrespect.

He had, at times, a devious and dry sense of humor. And his laugh was genuine and deep.

He believed in the promise of America and what he called “the old-fashioned values.” He thought it remiss to let a Fourth of July, Veterans Day or a Mother’s Day go by without drawing the attention of the lawmakers of the land.

He garnered respect for reading and knowing what others could, but did not, take the time to read and know for themselves.

He valued analytical minds, pulling something from the salient facts that others had missed. He liked counterintuitive arguments, and original takes on what could be conventional debates.

He thought Party was important, but could go too far, especially if it threatened the constitutional system of separation of powers and checks and balances.

And he felt that partisanship too often stood in the way of beneficial legislation.

He believed in civility in, around, and away from the Capitol. He insisted on a public dialogue that did honor to our Nation’s governmental institutions. He thought public offices ought to be treated with dignity and respect.

His priorities derived from the Senate, the Constitution and the people of West Virginia.

He was deeply pious, but careful not to wear his religion on his sleeve.

He sought big achievements but had the patience to take small steps.

He always wanted to try, leaving no stone unturned. But he disliked building false hope. If something couldn't be done, he wanted people to know it.

He openly and often recognized he was a flawed man, a rare quality in a politician.

His one truest advisor, whose opinion mattered most, was Erma – his high school sweetheart, a coal miner’s daughter and the love of his life.

He viewed his position in the Senate as the greatest honor a state could offer its sons and daughters. He never wanted to waste a single day in recognizing that honor.

He never tired, never faltered in his desire to do all that he could in his work for the People who had honored him time and time again.

He knew this day would come. He knew he would leave this place behind. He wanted to set a good example for others to follow. That he did.

May he always be remembered and memorialized as the great U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd.