- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 24, 2002

Dwight Eisenhower was days away from becoming the first president to hold a televised news conference, and the average price of a new house was $22,000 about the price of a new pickup truck today when South Carolina's Strom Thurmond, a Republican, first strode into the Senate 48 years ago.
Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, blocked so much legislation in his 30 years in the Senate that he gained the nickname "Senator No." Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, brought some conservative Hollywood glitz, having worked with stars such as Harrison Ford during his acting career. Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas Republican, brought a folksy wit tempered with sharp economic knowledge and unflinching conservatism.
All bid goodbye to the Senate this week after not seeking re-election. Departing with them are Sens. Tim Hutchinson, Arkansas Republican, Max Cleland, Georgia Democrat, and Jean Carnahan, Missouri Democrat, all of whom lost to challengers in elections this month that threw control of the Senate to the Republicans.
Mrs. Carnahan was appointed to her seat to replace her late husband Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan who died just before winning the Senate seat in 2000, when his name remained on the ballot after his death.
"I leave realizing that to have served in the United States Senate for even a short while is an honor afforded very few," she said. "I still believe, as did my husband, that public service is a good and noble work, worthy of our lives."
Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, lost his seat in a Republican Senate primary. Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, New Jersey Democrat, dropped his re-election bid just weeks before the election, after seeing his approval ratings plummet. Sen. Frank H. Murkowski, Alaska Republican, left to become governor of his state.
One by one, senators entered the chamber this week to laud their departing colleagues, who saw the world change around them in the past two years:
Terrorists attacked two of the biggest symbols of the United States' economic and military might: the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The Capitol was closed by a biological-warfare agent: deadly anthrax spores inserted in letters mailed to two senators.
A historic tilt in control of the Senate from one party to another by one member, Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords, who defected from the Republican Party.
The largest reorganization of the government since immediately after World War II with the creation of a Homeland Security Department.
Most of these senators left with words of thanks rather than the bitterness of lost elections or the sadness of the major life change that departure from the Senate can bring.
"Too often, as people leave the Senate, they talk about things they're unhappy about," Mr. Gramm said Tuesday. "I want people to know I am not discouraged, I am not disillusioned, I am not disappointed. I am proud and I am honored. I am proud to have had an opportunity to serve the greatest country in the history of the world."
Mr. Cleland, who lost his legs and an arm in Vietnam, used a variation on Gen. Douglas McArthur's famous farewell that "old soldiers never die, they just fade away" in his final Senate speech.
"This old soldier is not going to fade away, but I will take my battles to another front," Mr. Cleland said to Senate applause.
The 81-year-old Helms is also a hero to many for his ardent opposition to communism during his years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He was also prominent in conservative social issues.
But even through all those battles, Mr. Helms always was a "true Christian gentleman in the Southern style, courtly and gracious," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, on Wednesday.

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