tv Rep. John Dingell Funeral Service in Washington DC CSPAN February 14, 2019 10:55am-12:00pm EST
>> here on c-span. right now we're going to take you live to the funeral service for late representative john dingell of michigan. at the podium is john lewis speaking to -- speaking to folks at holy trinity church in georgetown. mr. lewis: use our power, not to advance our own ambition, but to serve. my beloved brothers and .isters, let me say again thank you for holding up and
great g by our friend, a man, our brother, john dingell. if you need us in the hours to ome, the days to come, call us and we will be there. let me say, again, to my friend , to our brother, john dingell, i want to thank you for all of your help through the years, for all your love and support. thank you for your friendship. i will miss you. we will miss you. but i do believe deeply in my heart that we will see you in the morning. [applause]
>> we have come together today as fellow americans to celebrate the life of one of the greats. debbie, thank you for giving me the honor of being part of this today. mr. boehner: it means a lot to me to be here to honor my friend, the gentleman from michigan, the dean of the house, the chairman. and as you know, john was driven by the notion that congressional service is an act of coming together and finding common ground necessary to advance the interest of our country. a mentor to many of us who served with him in the congress, john was revered by colleagues, democrat and republican alike. in 2013, when i was speaker,
john became the longest serving member in the history of the house and we honored him with a ceremony in statuary hall. we surprised me, as fred pointed out earlier, by announcing that the room of the energy and commerce committee, the chamber that had already become synonymous with his name, would hence forth be named the john david dingell jr. room. this idea didn't come from john. it didn't come from his fellow democrats. it came from two republicans. the current chairman of the committee and the former chairman of the committee. like many who served with him, they loved him. that's not to say that my friend, john, was all honey and no vinegar. [laughter] mr. boehner: he was a practitioner of what you might call tough love. he was a man who fought
fiercely for what he believed. as a young man, enlisting in the united states army in the second world war. as a member of congress, it often meant going toe-to-toe with the opposite political party. on occasion, it meant going toe-to-toe with his own political party. sometimes when necessary it meant get in the faces of his own friends. i can't tell you how many times over the 25 years we served together he chastised me about smoking. but you always knew where you stood with mr. dingell. i remember when i became chairman of the education and workforce committee in 2001, the first thing i did after i got elected was to find john in his usual place on the house floor and sat down and said, what do i do now? [laughter] mr. boehner: but he was always there -- always there with advice. if you go back and look at some of the speeches that john gave during his final years in congress, a few themes came up
repeatedly. time and again he spoke of goodness, of kindness, of decency, of friendship. by the time his career of public service had reached its apex, these were the things that john had come to value above all else and to embody in his own life. he was fond of the notion that we as americans are all in the same boat together. .
his record also includes helping to stop what would have been some very big mistakes. the rough and tumble of the legislative process can test the patience of even the most disciplined soul. john dingell was not a man given to illusions or prone to rely on some sugarcoated antidote. the united states congress he knew has never been a perfect institution. what it has been at its finest moments is an instrument furthering the quest for a more perfect union, a quest that began more than 200 years ago. john dingell was president for more of those moments than any other american ever to serve. through his iron will, commitment to the dignity of his fellow man and skill as a egislator, he was also the
driving force behind many of those movements. he was a great legislator. not just because he was a shrewd negotiator or a master tactician, or a hard driving a gun, he was all of those things. but john dingell was a great legislator. and above all else, because he was a great american. one who believed in -- with all of his soul in the greatness that the idea that is america. our nation is blessed been served for so long and by such distinction as john dingell jr. i'm blessed to have known him. blessed to have learned from him. truly a man of the house. rest well in peace, my friend. [applause]
mr. levin: debbie, judge dingell, john the third, gabriel, roamy, robin, jim -- mr. hoyer, jim, jewel, it is hard at this point in time after three extraordinary speakers not to be redundant. 'm sure i will be. john dingell was known by all of you here. there's nothing therefore that i can tell you about john dingell that you don't already
know. we know, of course, john dingell, like all of us, was not perfect. none of us are. but we know how very, very good he was. we know that is why he kept etting re-elected. kindness, more than any person in the history of our country. like to do the people's work and the people's house. what an extraordinary record he achieved in the almost 60 years he served. john dingell. made a profound difference on behalf of millions of his
fellow citizens and indeed people around the world. s has been said, he was tough. very tough. many have known his fierce and biting judgment. many, too, will recall as has been said his gentle soul. he was inle to rent -- inle toent -- intolerant of evil. intolerant of injustice. intolerant of malfeasance. nd made sure everyone knew it. at the same time he was an advocate and fighter for tolerance. jim clyburn, you know that. like all of you i i saw his
great strength, his patriotism, d his extraordinary, extraordinary adoration of lovely deborah. like you i i saw him as a man of both complexity and, yes, simplestity. a man who served he so well his country, his family, his state, his community, the house of representatives, and we, his colleagues. that's how all of us knew john dingell. when i first arrived in congress, john had already been there for over a quarter of a century. and i had the privilege of serving with him for 33 years. like many of the freshmen at the time, i saw him as larger than life. he was imposing.
yes, intimidating. he was john lewis has said, chairman john dingell. seemingly unapproachable. at the time i thought of an old country ballad sung by tennessee ernie ford, told of a giant of a man who held up the buckling timber in a collapsing mine. allowing all others in that mine to escape. big john, that miner was called. without ll was question our very own big john. larger than life figure who had raised up the institution of the house as a legislator and as a leader in our party. as the years passed and i got
to know john the man, not only as big john the chairman, and as it turned out, he was approachable. he was, i discovered, as so many of you did, as tender as he was tenacious. he became a dear, dear friend. thank you, debbie, for allowing me to say a few words. i never stopped looking up to him. as a senior colleague. even as he became my dear friend, he continued to be big john. to all of us with whom he served. and big john was a master of the house as has been said. on occasion he would unabashedly use his power as the chairman to cut through the confusion on an issue and
impose his will he believed to be morally the correct thing to do. he once gaveled a committee meeting to adjournment right before he was about to lose the vote. declaring, you may have the votes, but i've got the gavel. and more often than not, he ultimately got the votes, too. john liked and respected every member with whom he served for having been elected by their neighbors to represent them in he congress. at least until they gave john a reason not to. he never minced words. he never held back. -- re, ernest, determined
earnest, determined, courageous, persuasive, principleled, indefatigable, at times, acerbic. ay amen. the voices you just heard are those who knew that personally. and so many times, of course, gentle and encouraging. the love he showed those of us who were his colleagues was often tough love. he loved us sometimes with soft words and sometimes sharp elbows. democrats, fred as you you you pointed out, republicans alike. john handed out bars as often s he handed out punch key.
those are polish doughnuts. if i mispronounced it, i apologize. and how fortunate we were to have both. from the biting letters he wrote to his pointed questioning of witnesses, from his unyielding advocacy for legislation ahead of its time, to his tweets so undeniably of their time. deep inside the man we found an immeasurable determination to make the house of representatives, the state of michigan, and his beloved america a better place. he used his time in the office to do exactly that. john fundamentally understood what the house of representatives can be when it's at its best. he saw it as an engine by which representatives can can transform love of country --
can can transform love of country into the tools of justice and security and opportunity for the people we serve. we all know the tools he helped fashion. health care reform, medicare, he clean air act, safe drinking water act, endangered species act, civil rights, voting rights, support for all working families. and in particular, of course, michigan's autoworkers. whom he loved and who loved him. his respect and admiration for working people were manifested in his dedication to the men and women who build our cars and to the united states autoworkers. he was their steadfast champion and in doing so championing, the hopes and dreams of every working american. the list of legislation shaped
by his hands stretches as long as his unrivaled tenure. early last week, called and said that john wasn't doing so well. so i got on a plane last wednesday and flew to michigan. debbie greeted me at the door in dearborn. she, of course, was the love of john's life. their love affair was an example of tea vote on the devotion support -- and sprorgs. john told everyone each of us, i'm sure, that deborah, the lovely deborah, her first name is lovely. the lovely deborah was his strength, his steady hand, and
his most important advisor and closest friend. and oh how justifiably proud he was that she was continuing the legendary dingell service in the congress of the united tates. i spent 2 1/2 hours with john that late afternoon. john brought low by age and illness, was still the lion hearted center of energy and outrage about the wrongs that he saw. his sense of humor still intact. his concern for the house and for our country was as fervent as ever. we talked for an hour about and as, what had been, what should be. he had a deep concern for the future of our country, which he
expressed in his last words to america. in it he wrote this. as i prepare to leave this all behind, i now leave you in control of the greatest nation in mankind. pray god gives you the wisdom to understand the responsibility you hold in your hands. a little later, sandy levin, john, me, as well as debbie and john orlando, one of his closest friends, sandy and john reminisced about so many of the crusades pursueded by the dingell and levin families and their allies. i was amazed the sharpness of his memory. sandy's brother, senator carl levin, who served in 2005, and i quote, the story of john
dingell is the story of the hopes and dreams of the american people. y church would say amen again. ohn dingell, indeed, hankfully for us he was also -- indeed was the dreamer. and thankfully for us he was also a doer. before i left, i kissed him on the forehead and told him i love you, john. and i knew i spoke for all of his colleagues as well.
he he knew the end was nearing. don't know that if i of us knew it was 24 hours or less. but even at the threshold of death, he was in command. he was concerned. he was ready for the next day. the next tweet. the next fight. as debbie said, he was classic john dingell. and that is how i will always remember him. our dear and loyal friend, a great american, a great member of the house, and a very good nd decent man. godspeed, big john. [applause]
>> to john's family, thank you for loving him. eborah, thank you for giving hillary and me the chance to be here. prin: to honor someone he -- prinprn -- president clinton: to honor someone we love, admired, and happily follow. thank you for going to congress . and continuing the service of a great name.
hoyer, speaker boehner, congressman lewis, congressman upton, and all the serving members who are here, what do you say, don't you think we owe it to john? let's be honest, one of the reasons none of us would have missed this is this is the only time in our entire lives in public service that we were in the same room with john dingell and got the last word. [applause] don't you dare jump up and say something. this service has been very moving to me.
many of us had the chance to talk to john not -- we probably talked, don't know, just a little over 24 hours before he passed away. and i was so grateful that his mind was clear. and his spirit was strong. and the determination was -- he said, you know, i'm not done yet. and he didn't know if he was going to live an hour or week or whatever. the idea was, you ride the horse till the race is over. all of us, particularly those of us who are not young, i hope we will remember that. a remarkable man as all
of you have said. patriot in some cases without pier -- peer in the history of america. he spent more time in the congress trying to fulfill the founders' add mow pier nation to form a more perfect union. -- admonition to form a more perfect union than anyone else. just spend time there. one of the things that i was always amazed is he managed to ind a way to have a good time. hillary and i and like many of you, we can remember almost very time we had ever been with him and every casual conversation we h i treasure those things. i have been in a line with him
when it was so cold the ducks wouldn't come out. i told him he shood look on the bright side, it saved us from a lot of criticism from the animal rights people. have been in his district campaigning for him and one of the rare examples when it looked like he might get less than 100 percent of the vote. i sat in the rotunda in the capitol when he was honored by breaking the longest service record. many of you have commented on how being his friend entitled getting your hide ripped off from time to time. you have to understand that's in part the mark of an honest friendship. if you think you your friend is wrong, you tell him.
both of us have experienced this exquisite example of affection. i liked it. he never snuck around behind your back. he didn't say one thing to your face and then call somebody to get a little press to do something else. john dingell was a standup guy. he got up, he suited up, played the game straight ahead. e was an old-fashioned man who did things in an old-fashioned way that we should adapt for new times. he fought like crazy, but he always asked himself at the end , ok, i'm not in the majority, or i am in the majority, now what are we going to do?
the thing i love most about him was that he was a world class doer. he understood that the trust he was given as a member of congress, representing his people, was first and foremost a job. to the job required him show up and do something for which he could give an accounting to the people who hired him. and say, we did this, this, this, we tried this, this, and, this. i failed, so we did this because this was still possible. he loved politics, but he also understood that not everyone would agree with him. if you believed in the constitution of the united states, that that was a good thing. it would give us a better, stronger country as long as he
we continued to see each other first as people. people first. and then figure out what we could do. i don't know if all of you read his memoirs, but it's funny. he was so busy doing things, he didn't have time to write his memoirs until he was over 90. they were just published last december. i was looking through it again last night and i thought, you know, he was afraid he was running outs of time so he short-circuited the last 25 years of his life. he had so much to talk about. but there's one passage that sums up the book in a nutshell. out of deference to our pressence in this historic holy place and with all the clergy here, i think i will have to paraphrase some of the more
colorful language. he wrote, i served in the house for 59 years and 21 days. it remains the record for continuous service in the united states congress. something that seems to impress a lot of people. i am not one of them. quite frankly, don't care about records. any fool can sit in a chair and take up space. it is what -- [applause] it is what you do with your time that matters. i look out over this crowd and i see so many of you that i had the honor to serve with. members of both parties, i can
ell you things we did together . john dingell was just about the best doer in the history of merican public life. since 1955, that's a long time ago, until he left, he had a hand in just about every important contribution to following -- that followed our founders' admonition to form a more perfect union. and he was good about doing this when he was in the minority as well as when he was in the majority. i remember, i pulled out the notes to make sure my memory was right, in 1996 the telecommunications act was the first bill ever signed in the library of congress because we
thought we were writing a positive communications manifesto for the next several years. it was a highly complicated bill. the communications law had not been overhauled in 60 years. and john and many of our democrats wanted to make sure that there was ample room for competition. to keep the rates as low as possible. and the service as wide as possible. he he worked with chairman bliley and he spoke that day in the library of congress as the minority leader of that committee. because he was interested in etting something done. his long loyalty to health care is legendary, but in the end what counts even more than his
honoring his father was that he was there for medicare and medicaid. he was there for the children's health insurance program. he was there for the affordable care act. [applause] one of the things that i especially appreciated was his saying that his favorite job in public service was his summer job between his junior and senior year in college. as a park ranger in rocky mountain national park. for 59 years he worked to be sure future generations could enjoy america's national treasure. as far as i know, he supported the efforts of every administration, democrat and republican, legislative or executive, to preserve that land. and then he became obsessed with public health.
he supported president nixon and the creation of the environmental protection agency. occupational health and safety agency. he supported the clean water act, clean air act, endangered species act. i want to just say a couple of things about his record on civil rights. it is true that he endangered his seat in congress by voting for the civil rights act of 1964. his polish immigrant catholic heritage, his study of social justice with the jesh wits up the street -- jet wits up the street -- jesuits up the street did not permit him to pull up the ladder of opportunity just because he had climbed it.
a lock s doing this time -- long time before the civil rights bill was voted for. in his first term in congress in 1956, he sponsored an anti-lynching bill, a fair housing bill, and a bill to eliminate the poll tax. as someone who grew up in a state where the poll tax was used to control the black folk, it meant a lot to me. but he became a particular hero of mine when i was only about 13 years old. in 1959, young congressman dingell stood before the fearsome speaker, sam rayburn, and objected to what is normally routine the seating of
all the new members at the same time. because one of them was a congressman from my native state, arkansas, who had for ted the sitting member supporting the integration of little rock central high school. and he beat him on a write in campaign in which people were allowed to put printed stickers on the ballot, even though the law didn't provide for it. there were other interesting irregularities. but the idea, it sounds simple, little procedural bill, but i think it's very important, especially to younger people here who may think of john ingell as yesterday's man. he was not afraid a as a young man to risk the ire of people
who could have wrecked his effectiveness to make the point that no one should gain automatic admission to the house if elected under a system that was not genuinely emocratic. 1961 i told congressman lewis this, john dingell accepted an invitation to go to the union baptist church in atlanta, georgia. to speak to the naacp. that's a pretty good gig for a polish kid from michigan. and the lady who was doing the dinner was trying to do a favor for a young lawyer she thought needed some help because he was making only $35 a week at the time. which wasn't much money even in
1961. she let this young lawyer introduce john dingell. and vernon jordan did a very good job. and he called to tell me that introduce john dingell. to this very day he was just another one of john's kids that his career really took off after he got to introduce john dingell. until his last day on earth, ohn dingell was doing. when his body wouldn't work anymore, and his mind wouldn't america's ned to national obsession, tweeting, and became a zen master. you should read, if you haven't, the collection of
john's greatest twitter hits. i i mean, it's zen mastery. ew words, much wisdom. and if you don't pay attention, you'll miss it. he honored the people who sent and if you him to congress for 59 years by keeping the sacred pact of doing and doing and doing. we give thanks for his long good life, but the real thing we have to do is to honor it now as he charged us in his last letter. e often quoted what i you used to joke was his good friend, benjamin franklin.
he said after the constitutional convention when asked what we had been left, he said, a republic if you can keep it. so now he has done all he could to help us keep it. and the greatest honor we could ever give him is to spend whatever years we have left at . e wheel, to the last day goodbye, john. inally you are in that place of more perfect union where all god's children know how it feels to be free.
thank you. [applause] >> sitting for a long time, let's take a moment to stand nd pray. o god, your nature is always to forgive and to show mercy. we humbly implore you for your servant, john. whom you have called to journey to you. since he hoped and believed in you, grant that he may be led to our true homeland to delight in its everlasting joys. we ask this through our lord jesus christ, your son, who lives and raines with with you in the -- rains with you in the
unity of the holy spirit, one god forever and every. amen. lease be seated again. >> a reading from the book of ecclesiastes. there is an appointed time for everything. and a time for every affair under the heavens. a time to give birth. and a time to die. a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. a time to kill, and a time to heal. a time to tear down, and a time to build. a time to weep, and a time to laugh. a time to mourn, and a time to
dance. time to scatter the stones and a time to gather them. a time to emfrase, and a time to be -- embrace, and a time to be far from the breamises. a time to seek and a time to loose. a time to keep, and a time to cast away. a time to rend and a time to sow. a time to be silent, and a time to seek. a time to love, and a time to ate. a time of war, and a time of peace. god has made everything appropriate to his time. but has put the timeliness into their hearts so they cannot find out from beginning to end, the work which god has done. the word of the lord. >> thanks be to god.
acceptable to him. mr. dingell: you know the word that he sent to the israelites as he proclaimed peace through jesus christ who is lord of us all. he commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by god as judge of the living and the dead. to him and all prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name. the word of the lord. >> thanks be to god. >> al lieua, al lieua, al
. leluia, alleluia, alleluia >> the lord be with you. >> and with your spirit. >> a reading from the holy gospel according to matthew. >> glory to you o lord. >> when he jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain and after he had sat down his disciples came to him. jesus began to teach them saying, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. blessed are the meek for they will inherit the land.
blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. blessed are the merciful, they will be shown mersy. chaplain conroy: blessed are the clean of heart for they will see god. blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children. -- children of god. blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. and blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you, falsely, because of me. rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven. the gospel, the good news of
our lord jesus christ. >> prace to you lord jesus christ. -- praise to you lord jesus christ. croig please be seated. -- chaplain conroy: please be eated. when i was a young man, certainly by the time i got to high school, i was very interested in things having to do with law and politics. my father was a lawyer. and it weighed into where i went to college. so i went to claremont meant's college in southern california. when i arrived at the house eight years ago, as david dryer, a -- dreier, a co-alumnus from claremont, who was happy to see me, and welcomed me here, at claremont
we learned more than we would ever have learned in ninth grade civics, to love and to respect the institutions of government and law in this country. my aw at claremont it was plan to go on to law school, become a lawyer, eventually to enter politics and replace either warren magnusson or scoop jackson. but then i went to gonzaga law school in spokane, washington, d ran into the jesuits and i put on the last suit i would ever wear and became a man in black. fast forward to eight years
ago, i had put my imagineys and hopes in law and politics behind me, then a number of ministries. i was teaching ninth graders in portland, oregon. nd my superior asked me to apply for a position that was opening up. i did. and i was interviewed by john boehner and nancy pelosi. i didn't blow the interview. and i became the chaplain of the house of representatives. god had remembered my bucket ist. so i was in the candy store. i was like i came to an institution that i knew and loved from my studies. i observed from afar. well prepared to come, having
been teaching and coaching -- ear-olds [applause] and naturally found my way to the revered elders of the house, who welcomed me in a way that other members didn't. notable among them, dale kildee, who is here with us today. jim sensenbrenner, graciously the first to come to my office to welcome me. certainly walter jones, god bless him now. we would all be in north carolina were we not here. [applause] and john. i never met john, i never knew
john as big john as the chairman, my predecessor said to me, just call everybody by their first name. don't deal in titles. don't deal -- because you're not playing the politics here. you're -- you are ministering to john. you are ministering to nancy. you are ministering to patrick. you are ministering to ben. you're ministering to brothers and sisters in christ. so i came to know john. and john over the years was always happy to sit -- see me as was mentioned, he sat in his little perch there in the second row on the democratic side, along with dale kildee. walter -- ooked like the two old muppets. sat there and commented on
everything. yeah, yeah, yeah. [applause] and then when he retired, went back to detroit, and those times when he would come back to the hill, god bless john, he would call me up and want to see me. of course, john. and so i would come over to debbie's office and we would sit down. his first question was, so, the most important thing i need to know, father, is are you doing ell? and i always was. and we would get to talking as men who talk seriously do. and he would always ask me, he said, father, at the end of all this, do you think god can can
forgive me? john, if god cannot forgive us, we're all doomed. god's mercy is greater than god's judgment, but i don't think you need to worry. he says, father, am i all right with the lord? do you think i'm all right with he lord? now, all the readings of the takes in , each one the catholic church, hopefully, about an eight-minute homily. if we were in steny's church i would go 45 on each one of them. but i choose to forecuss on -- focus on the gospel, on the beat-tudes. for those not familiar, our nonchristian brothers and sisters, i am so honored you are here gracing us with your presence here today.
and and for those of us who are catholic and don't know the -- pture very well -- laugh [laughter] >> this is the fifth chapter of matthew. guess what happens in the fourth chapter? ourth chapter. it's jesus' temptation in the desert. and one of the temptations is that satan places before jesus, i'll give you-all the power in this world. i'll give you all the power in this world should be worship e. and jesus, says, you know, we worship only the lord our god. there shall be no god before him. o jesus offered power said that's not the will of the
father for my mission in life. for my vocation in this life is not that power. it is, i don't have power. i don't hold power. for the mission. omeone said that as a member of congress nobody in government has power, they hold power for the people they serve. john, that was you that said that. that's what jesus was saying. the first thing jesus does after he's been tempted by satan, he comes out and does he exercise power? no, he comes out with blessed are the poor in spirit. what? ot a power move.
? essed are the meek it's not power politics. this is something else. it's kind of like the 10 commandments being brought into a new understanding. this is the way, if you were to follow god's will. this is the way to be. lessed are the poor in spirit. kingdom of god is theirs. john, are you right with the lord? you were never poor. john was not poor. most of us are not poor. so what does it mean the poor in spirit? it means i think it means for those who are holding power