Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi hosted a reception today in Statuary Hall in the Capitol to celebrate Congressman John Dingell as the longest-serving Member of the House of Representatives. Below are the Speaker's remarks:
“As Speaker of the House, it is an honor to join you tonight in saluting John Dingell on behalf of a grateful Congress.
“Tomorrow, a flag will fly over the Capitol in honor of John Dingell's accomplishment of becoming the longest-serving Member of the House of Representatives.
“President Kennedy once said: ‘no government is better than the people who serve it, we want the best, we need the best, and we deserve the best.'
“For 19,420 days, we have had the best - with John Dingell.
“Tonight we have the opportunity to pay tribute to our colleague. It is also personal privilege for me, as my father, Thomas D'Alesandro, served with John Dingell's father in Congress.
“It is fitting that on John's night, we thank and congratulate his family: his wife, the lovely Deborah, and his children, Christopher and Jennifer.
“I would also like to recognize President Bill Clinton, who honors John Dingell by joining us here tonight.
“Every chapter of John Dingell's life has been lived in service to his country.
“John first came to these halls as a congressional page. It was as a page in 1941 that he was standing on the House Floor when President Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. That war called John to serve again, where he rose to the rank of second lieutenant in the Army.
“It also began a public life dedicated to making America strong both at home and abroad.
“A member of the Greatest Generation, John Dingell applied his brilliant mind, his great judgment, and his broad vision to making the future better for generations to come.
“John always made clear that a strong America had to be a healthy America. Continuing a tradition his father began, in every Congress John has introduced a bill for universal, national health insurance.
“Because of his tireless work in securing health care for the elderly, John presided in the House in 1965, when Medicare was passed into law. The gavel he used that day still sits on his desk.
“To work alongside John Dingell is to be inspired by the history of our institution and humbled by the seriousness of our work.
“John is a symbol of continuity. On December 13th, 1955, John Dingell took over the seat that had been occupied by his late father. After hearing his father's colleagues eulogize John Dingell, Sr., John stepped up and said, ‘My father loved and respected the House and all its Members. If I can be half the man my father was, I shall feel I am a great success.'
“John, we are here tonight to say that we love and respect you - and by any measure - your leadership and your success have been unsurpassed.”