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Flowers left for Strom Thurmond
James Strom Thurmond (December 5, 1902 June 26, 2003) Sir, you will be remembered as an American politician who served for 48 years as a United States Senator. You ran for president in 1948 as the States Rights Democratic Party (Dixiecrat) candidate, receiving 2.4% of the popular vote and 39 electoral votes. You represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1954 until 2003, at first as a Democrat and, after 1964, as a Republican. You switched because of your opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, disaffection with the liberalism of the national party, and your support for the conservatism and opposition to the Civil Rights bill of the Republican presidential candidate Senator Barry Goldwater. You left office as the only senator to reach the age of 100 while still in office and as the oldest-serving and longest-serving senator in U.S. history (although you were later surpassed in length of service by Robert Byrd and Daniel Inouye). Plus you holds the record at 14 years as the longest-serving Dean of the United States Senate in U.S. history. In opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957, you conducted the longest filibuster ever by a lone senator, at 24 hours and 18 minutes in length, nonstop. In the 1960s, you opposed the civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965 to end segregation and enforce the voting rights of African-American citizens. You always insisted you had never been a racist, but was opposed to excessive federal authority, and you attributed the movement for integration to Communist agitators. You became President pro tempore of the US Senate in 1981, and held the largely ceremonial post for three terms, alternating with your longtime rival Robert Byrd depending on the party composition of the Senate. During this period, you maintained a close relationship with the Reagan White House. You served as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court in 1991 and worked closely with Joe Biden, then the chairman. You joined the minority of Republicans who voted for the Brady Bill for gun control in 1993. On December 5, 1996, you became the oldest serving member of the U.S. Senate, and on May 25, 1997, the longest-serving member (41 years and 10 months), casting your 15,000th vote in September 1998. In the following month, when astronaut John Glenn was to embark on the Discovery at age 77, who was your senior by 19 years, reportedly sent him a message saying; "I want to go too" You decided to decline to seek re-election in 2002, you were succeeded by fellow Republican Lindsey Graham. You left the Senate in January 2003 as the United States' longest-serving senator (a record later surpassed by Senator Byrd). In your November farewell speech in the Senate,you told your colleagues "I love all of you, especially your wives," the latter being a reference to your flirtatious nature with younger women. At your 100th birthday and retirement celebration in December,you said, "I don't know how to thank you. You're wonderful people, I appreciate you, appreciate what you've done for me, and may God allow you to live a long time" It was on this day after 10 years, you died in your sleep on June 26, 2003, at 9:45 p.m. of heart failure at a hospital in Edgefield, South Carolina. You were 100 years old. After lying in state in the rotunda of the State House in Columbia, your body was carried by a caisson to the First Baptist Church for services, where then-Senator Joe Biden delivered a eulogy, and later to the family burial plot in Willowbrook Cemetery in Edgefield, where you are interred. In 1989, you were presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Ronald Reagan and in 1993 you were presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush.
 Added: Jun. 26, 2013

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