Murkowski: "Ted Was Alaska"

Annie Feidt and Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Thousands of mourners and a long list of dignitaries gathered at Anchorage Baptist Temple this afternoon to say goodbye to Senator Ted Stevens. It was a somber occasion, but there were also plenty of laughs as those who knew the Senator shared their favorite stories.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski quickly set the theme for the ceremony.

Murkowski talked about the number of young Alaskans Stevens helped raise. She said he would recognize their talent and help encourage their success. And she said he taught everyone in Alaska the value of not giving up.

After Murkowski spoke, Vice President Joe Biden offered the first of three tributes to Stevens. Biden served with Stevens in the Senate for 37 years. And he started things off with a light hearted reference to Stevens’ ability to bring federal dollars to Alaska.

Biden also talked about his first days in the Senate in 1973, when he was still reeling from the death of his first wife.

Biden said he was able to offer support to Stevens when his first wife, Ann died five years later. He ended his tribute with this message.

Senator Mitch McConnell, who is also minority leader, talked about Stevens’ “legendary grit”. He said Stevens’ contributions to Alaska were as great as the state itself. McConnell noted that most lawmakers in Washington would invite you to dinner, but Stevens was different.

Senator Daniel Inouye a Democrat from Hawaii was one of Ted Stevens’ closest friends, both in and out of the daily workings of Congress. They called each other brother and Inouye said when Stevens was sworn in on December 24, 1978, he was a Christmas gift to Alaska. He said when oil was discovered in Prudhoe Bay, Stevens called him and asked him to come to his office.

Inouye listed years of accomplishments, trips together to Iraq and Afghanistan in times when they slept in tents with no electricity or other services and work to help the two distant states meet the needs of their citizens.  Inouye said their personal and Congressional relationship helped set the tone for getting things done.

Photos by Patric Yack, APRN – Anchorage: (Top) Vice President Joe Biden speaks about his memories about the late Ted Stevens. (Right) U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, President Pro Tempore (D-HI) talks to the attendees of Stevens’ memorial service. (Left) A memorial dedicated to Stevens.

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