- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Conservatives lost a friend Tuesday with the death of Rep. Charlie Norwood of Georgia. As Minority Leader John Boehner noted, Mr. Norwood was “a man of principle and conviction; a man who never stopped fighting for the ideals he believed in and the nation he loved to serve.” Indeed, Mr. Norwood served his nation throughout his life, first as an Army captain in Vietnam and later as one of the conservatives of the congressional class of ‘94. He died at his home in Augusta, Ga., at the age of 65 after a long battle with lung cancer and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

As a member of the Republican Revolution, Mr. Norwood was often found at the forefront of fights to reform Washington, such as the investigation into the Teamsters and the investigation into fraud and theft at the Department of Education. He played a key role in the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Perhaps his proudest accomplishment was his work in health care, specifically his Keep Our Promises to Military Retirees Act in 1999, which provided fully funded health care for military retirees, and his years-long effort to enact his Patients’ Bill of Rights.

Mr. Norwood’s dedication to health care reform stemmed from his years as an Army dentist and in his private practice. While serving in Vietnam in the late 1960s, Capt. Norwood was one of the first participants in an Army outreach program that delivered doctors to soldiers in the field, as opposed to having them transferred off the line. He received the Combat Medical Badge and two Bronze Stars. During his work in private practice, Mr. Norwood served as president of the Georgia Dental Association and the Eastern District Dental Society.

As a conservative Republican, Mr. Norwood was often in the middle of the immigration debate and vociferously supported the House’s security-first bill in 2005. He summed up the debate for many when he said, “If you want to become an American, you must recognize we are a nation of laws and agree to abide by those laws.” He will be missed on this front in the months ahead.

We didn’t agree with Mr. Norwood’s efforts to hold the oil companies responsible for the high gas prices of last year, but Mr. Norwood was a strict fiscal conservative with a firm belief in the free market. The nation has lost a loyal servant.

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