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Happy birthday ‘Happy Warrior’: Senate honors Hubert Humphrey

A day before he would have turned 100, the Senate on Thursday honored Minnesota’s “Happy Warrior,” Hubert H. Humphrey. A resolution in his honor passed unanimously.

WASHINGTON — A day before he would have turned 100, the Senate on Thursday honored Minnesota’s “Happy Warrior,” Hubert H. Humphrey.

Humphrey was a political icon whose influence can still be felt today. Rep. Keith Ellison and Sen. Al Franken are among the politicians who love to quote Humphrey’s famous phrase on the role of government: “It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

His titles tell the story of his political acumen: Mayor of Minneapolis from 1945 to 1948, senator from 1949 to 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson’s vice president from 1965 to 1969, a presidential candidate when Johnson decided not to run for a second term. He lost in a close race to Richard Nixon, but shortly thereafter ran for Senate again, won, and served from 1970 until his death in 1978.

I’d encourage you, if you haven’t yet, to read the four-part story on Humphrey’s career that has run on MinnPost this week. It can be found here:

  1. ‘Into the bright sunshine’ — Hubert Humphrey’s civil-rights agenda
  2. Loyal lieutenant: On the ticket with LBJ
  3. Two favorite sons: the Humphrey-McCarthy battle of 1968
  4. The final chapter: Hubert Humphrey returns to public life

Both Klobuchar and Franken paid tribute to Humphrey again on Thursday.

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“I inherited Hubert Humphrey’s desk on the Senate floor, and it’s been truly humbling for me to follow in his footsteps,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “You can go down the list of landmark federal legislation from the past 60 years, and Hubert Humphrey’s fingerprints are there: civil rights, Medicare, nuclear arms control, the Peace Corps, and countless others. But I think the most important thing about Hubert Humphrey is that he was an optimist, and he believed in America and believed in our democracy.”

“Hubert Humphrey was a giant of Minnesota politics and a political hero of mine,” said Franken. “He led the effort to merge the Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties into the DFL before being elected to the U.S. Senate. There, he successfully fought for some of the most important legislation of the 20th century, including the Civil Rights Act and the creation of the Peace Corps. And his service as Vice President of the United States secured his place in the hearts of Minnesotans as a true statesman and a visionary progressive.”

In a show of bipartisanship befitting a man of his stature, the Senate’s resolution honoring Humphrey passed unanimously.