Video: Kaine Delivers Tribute at Senator John Warner’s Funeral
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine delivered a tribute at former U.S. Senator John Warner’s funeral. In his remarks, Kaine shared the lessons he learned from Warner and how his legacy has inspired Kaine’s work in the Senate.
You can watch his full speech here: https://timkaine.box.com/s/wl19jmlnrmrkdvu6l2do238w8lp80njy
“As I entered public life, what impressed me most about John was his obvious belief that country and character count above all else,” Kaine said. “As Mayor of Richmond and then Governor of Virginia, I often asked for his help and—if convinced it was right—he delivered. He was a Republican and I am a Democrat. But that never mattered. It was always inspirational to me that he never hesitated to choose the path of country and character instead of simply getting in line and supporting the orthodoxy of the day. That example should continue to challenge us all.”
“And so we gather here today for a man who exemplified love of country and character. And, surrounded by his friends and family, I address John Warner as he used to address me—‘Well old friend, today you are at home,’” Kaine concluded.
Speech as prepared for delivery:
To Jeannie and the entire Warner family—Anne and I feel for you in your loss and are honored to be with you today.
Long before I knew John Warner the patriotic public servant, I was honored to consider John Warner a friend. It was only upon coming to the Senate four years after he retired, that I came to fully understand the mark he left on the Senate, his beloved Commonwealth and his country.
John was a friend through my wife’s family. Anne’s father Linwood came back to Washington and Lee University after service in the Pacific in World War II and was joined in his fraternity by a young man also returning from Navy service. Thus Lin and John began a friendship in 1946 that lasted for 75 years.
Lin and John worked with a small band to build the Virginia Republican Party so that Virginia would not be a one party state, but a true 2-party democracy. Lin lobbied President-elect Nixon in 1968 to appoint John as Undersecretary and later Secretary of the Navy. John supported Lin’s effort to become Virginia’s first elected Republican Governor in 1969. Lin campaigned to help John win election to the Senate in 1978. Then John helped Lin obtain a nomination to serve on the Board of Amtrak. I often heard their stories about the path of Virginia politics and their hopes for more progress in the future.
When Anne broke the news about John’s death to her Dad, now aged 97, he expressed sadness at the loss of his friend of decades. Then — after a long pause — he said “wait a minute, he’s still a youngster, he’s 2 years younger than me.”
That statement tells you something about my father-in-law but also conveys a truth about John—“he’s still a youngster.” There was always a youthful energy, curiosity, twinkle in the eye and slight sense of mischief about John Warner.
As I entered public life, what impressed me most about John was his obvious belief that country and character count above all else. As Mayor of Richmond and then Governor of Virginia, I often asked for his help and—if convinced it was right—he delivered. He was a Republican and I am a Democrat. But that never mattered. It was always inspirational to me that he never hesitated to choose the path of country and character instead of simply getting in line and supporting the orthodoxy of the day. That example should continue to challenge us all.
Here’s something else that should challenge us all. John Warner ran to the fight twice to defend his country—joining the Navy as soon as he graduated from high school during World War II and then rejoining the Marine Corps when the US entered the Korean War. He did this at risk to his life, health and career. But of course he prioritized defending the nation above all else.
John Warner saw the Capitol under attack on January 6. He was deeply saddened by the assault on our democracy. We all should be. Will we step up to defend our nation as John did?
Finally, John gave me a personal challenge when I asked his advice about running for the Senate in 2012. He did not support me in that race because I was running against his good friend George Allen. But in response to my question about whether the job was worth the pains of campaigning for it, he said this:
If you had asked me that question in 1978 when I got here, I would tell you to run for the Senate if you have a 1% chance of winning. It is the best job you could imagine. I can’t say that now because partisanship, fundraising and an ever present and polarized media have made it a tougher place to find a path to do good things. But you know what old friend? It’s not in the water supply. It’s not sick building syndrome. It’s in the character and priorities of the people who walk into the building every day. So if you decide to run and get the chance to serve, you can make it better.
When I arrived in the Senate in 2013 and joined John’s cherished Armed Services Committee, I finally began to understand John’s impact from the stories that I heard about his three decade tenure. He loved his Senate colleagues and his Senate colleagues loved him. And his Senate colleagues were not just Senators—far from it. His superb staff—still powerfully connected as Warner alums—committee staffs, Capitol Police, food service workers, Senate gym employees. They were all family to John for 30 years.
A few months after I came to the body, I invited John to join me in the Senate Dining Room for lunch. He told me that he had not been in a long time. I have never felt as popular in the Senate as the day I walked into lunch with John Warner. Everyone flocked to our table. His smile, laugh and relaxed banter told me that, surrounded by his friends, he felt completely at home.
And so we gather here today for a man who exemplified love of country and character. And, surrounded by his friends and family, I address John Warner as he used to address me—“Well old friend, today you are at home.”