January 21, 1997: Headlines: COS - Ethiopia: Congress: Obituaries: US Senate: Senator Carl Levin's Tribute to RPCV Paul Tsongas

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ethiopia: Special Report: Ethiopia RPCV, Senator and Presidential Candidate Paul Tsongas: January 21, 1997: Headlines: COS - Ethiopia: Congress: Obituaries: US Senate: Senator Carl Levin's Tribute to RPCV Paul Tsongas

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Senator Carl Levin's Tribute to RPCV Paul Tsongas

Senator Carl Levin's Tribute to RPCV Paul Tsongas

Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I was saddened Saturday to learn of the loss of one of the great men that I have had the honor of serving with in the United States Senate, Paul E. Tsongas of Massachusetts.

Paul Tsongas and I arrived in this body at the same time almost exactly eighteen years ago in 1979. By that time Paul had already distinguished himself in four years of service in the House of Representatives, including legislation creating the first urban national historical park in his beloved hometown of Lowell. This became the catalyst for a remarkable renaissance in that historical New England mill town.

He arrived as the first Peace Corps veteran ever elected to the Senate. He valued highly his opportunity to serve in Ethiopia and spoke frequently of those two years as the formative years of his desire for public service. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he was a voice for human rights around the world, but particularly on the African continent. In his 1981 book, "The Road from Here", Paul wrote, "[Human rights] are rooted in our culture and history, and we should champion them. Third World people need to have us honor this principle because if we don't, no one effectively will. And ultimately it is the moral and economic strength of America that will count, not just our military might."

Paul accomplished a great deal in a short time in the Senate, including the passage of the Alaska Lands Act of 1980 which more than doubled the size of the national park system and which President Carter called the most important conservation legislation of the century.

However, he will be remembered best for his years after the Senate. He retired from the Senate in 1984 after learning that he had cancer, pledging to devote more time to his family. In the book, "Heading Home", about his decision to leave the Senate, he wrote: "On their deathbed, no one ever said, 'I wish I had spent more time with my business.'."

He overcame cancer undergoing a then-experimental medical procedure, and went on to become a presidential candidate in 1992, and a founder of the Concord Coalition, a bi-partisan organization which has become a credible and widely-respected grass-roots voice for fiscal responsibility in government.

As the family and friends of Paul Tsongas mourn his death and celebrate his life, Barbara and I will have Niki and Paul's three daughters Ashley, Katina, and Molly in our thoughts and prayers.

Mr. President, a member of my staff, Rich Arenberg, who served Paul Tsongas for more than ten years as a staff member and friend wrote a few personal words which are most apt:

"Paul Tsongas was an uncommon man. He honored America with the purity of his honesty and candor. There was no private Paul Tsongas, no public Paul Tsongas. He gave totally and completely of himself. He said exactly what he believed. In an age of partisan vitriol, he spoke softly and without animus. Although his voice was cool, his beliefs were passionately and tenaciously held. He believed that rational people of good will could solve any problem, bridge any difference, and lead by the force of reason. Paul Tsongas loved his family more than anything on earth and he loved his country deeply. He saw little distinction between the two because he believed the greatest gift we can give to our children is a strong future for America."

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: US Senate

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