Sen. Henry M. (Scoop) Jackson, who served in Congress for nearly 43 years before his death Thursday, was eulogized last night by his colleagues and friends as an honest, no-frills politician, who, more than any of his contemporaries, combined a passion for military strength with an unwavering tenderness toward the poor and disadvantaged.
"In an era of slick images and slack ideas, Scoop Jackson was a real man," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).
"He mastered . . . the art of being a servant to a vast public . . . without being servile to any part of it," columnist George Will said.
"His decency placed him steadfastly in the corner of the underdog in American society," said Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO.
On a steamy September night, more than 1,000 people crowded into the National Presbyterian Church on Nebraska Avenue to listen as Jackson, who died of a heart attack at 71, was praised as one of the most important and effective members of the U.S. Senate in this century.
"He was the finest public servant I have ever known," said Will, a longtime friend of Jackson. Will said a portrait of Jackson deserves to be hung in the Senate chamber along with other "hall of fame" senators such as Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Robert M. LaFollette and Robert A. Taft.
Will said that a Senate hall of fame without Jackson, whom he called "my hero," was as unthinkable as a baseball hall of fame without Babe Ruth.
In his eulogy, Kennedy, who served with Jackson on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that his colleague committed his life to a "strong military and to a just society." But he added that Jackson never believed in paying for missiles "at the expense of a hungry child."
Referring to Will, who spoke before him at the memorial service, Kennedy said that on nonmilitary domestic issues, "Scoop had such good sense that he always seemed to disagree with George."
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), who called Jackson a "just" man who "knew the terrible danger in the age in which he lived," said it was fitting that Jackson's last public act was a denunciation Thursday of the Soviet Union for the shooting down a South Korean passenger jet.
Grenville Garside, who worked with the late Washington senator as counsel to the Senate Energy Committee, recited a list of Jackson's accomplishments. He mentioned that Jackson was a key force behind Alaskan statehood, national wilderness legislation, the Environmental Protection Act, the creation of a strategic petroleum reserve and the formation of the Youth Conservation Corps.
"Scoop's legacy touches our lives in many, many ways," Garside said.
Ben J. Wattenberg, an author, pollster and campaign adviser to Jackson's unsuccessful presidential bids in 1972 and 1976, began his eulogy last night by saying that "Scoop liked his own nickname." It was given to him by his sister when he was a boy in his hometown of Everett, Wash., because she thought he looked like a cartoon-strip character in the newspaper that Jackson delivered.
In the five days since Jackson's death, Wattenberg said, he and others who knew the senator well have been trying to come up with an appropriate memorial. But Wattenberg said he decided that no one memorial could suffice.
"Scoop has his own memorial," Wattenberg said. It is, he said, a long list of legislation that has profoundly changed the way Americans live.