Page 3 of 5   <       >

Clinton Bids Farewell to Senate Colleagues

I well remember when I first arrived in the Senate, there were a few skeptics wondering what I would do and how I would do it. And there were stalwart supporters and guides, like my great friend Senator Barbara Mikulski, who kind of read me the rules of the road and set me on my way.

No sooner had I figured out the way around the Senate -- actually I had just moved into my office, which all of our new colleagues will eventually be able to enjoy, and had gone off on my first August recess.

I never, when I was on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, understood why the Senate went on recess all the time. But after the intensity of the workload and the extraordinary pressure of both the work here in Washington and the constituency work in our states, I was thrilled and relieved to see that August recess roll around.

Shortly after we returned in 2001, our nation was attacked on 9/11. The toll was devastating, and New York bore the heaviest burden. Here I was, a really new senator, and my city and my state had been devastated. Nearly 3,000 lives lost. The World Trade Center in ruins. A toxic cloud of debris and poison raining down over our first responders and others.

I well remember the rallying of support and sense of common purpose that all of my colleagues and the citizens of all the states represented here showed toward me personally and toward New York. Many of you offered not only kind words, but specific deeds. Senators sent staff members to help answer the ringing phones in our office, as New Yorkers struggled to track down family members or to seek aid.

I will never forget Senator Robert Byrd telling me, at my state's hour of need, "Think of me as the third senator from New York."

<          3           >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company