WASHINGTON, DC – House Senate leaders today held a celebration recognizing Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) on becoming the longest-serving Member of Congress in our history. The event was held in National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol. Following are House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) remarks opening today’s celebration, as prepared for delivery:
“Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon and thank you for joining us today. It is with great pride that I welcome you to the Old Hall of the House on this momentous occasion.
“With the help and guidance of Debbie Dingell, we have a wonderful program for you. First, permit me to say a few words about the man of the hour, someone I consider a good friend.
“John Dingell has served this House – the people’s House – with honor and sincerity. His milestone comes with all kinds of markers: 25,000 votes, 21,000 days, 30 elections, 11 presidents. But you really can’t put a number on what it means to enjoy the respect and admiration of your peers, which – more than anything – is why we are here today for John.
“I say this despite any political differences we may have. Because in the end, when all the sound and fury subsides, it’s how we treat each other and what we leave behind that will count.
“If John has taught us anything, it’s that a legacy is not something you can just conjure up or acquire. A legacy is something you make. And John Dingell – using only the tools God and country have provided him: freedom, purpose, conviction – has been a master craftsman at work … carving out a legacy of leadership and perseverance, or – to speak more in his dialect – a legacy of working your butt off.
“Some years ago, one of my predecessors said this about a member of the House: ‘He was always looking years ahead, and was a leader in charting the course for a better life for his fellow man.’ That was John McCormack talking about John Dingell, Sr. Today, I feel no shame in borrowing those words and applying them to this John Dingell.
“But remember now: John’s still at it. So as we pause today to salute him, to say congratulations and thank you, let’s also keep in mind there’s still plenty to do.”