Saluting Sen. Warner, Class of ’49

John Warner announces his retirement from the Senate.

John Warner announced his retirement from the Senate in August 2007.

When the U.S. Senate convenes at noon today in Washington, it will mark the first time in 30 years that Washington and Lee alumnus John Warner, Class of 1949, will be absent from the Senators’ ranks. As Amy Gardner wrote in the Washington Post Monday, Warner may not be there, but he will not be forgotten: “Remaining is the broad legacy of a man who came to personify the Virginia political gentleman. Remaining, too, is the question of who will fill the void he is leaving.” In recent days, many newspapers have editorialized about Warner’s impact. The Free-Lance Star of Fredericksburg wrote: “The commonwealth owes John Warner a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for his invaluable services–but with an asterisk referencing the footnote ‘so far.'” The Lynchburg News and Advance praised Warner for “[c]ivility, politeness, a sense of decorum and respect, modesty…” In a feature story in The Virginian Pilot, writer Dale Eisman relates how Warner considered a career in the Navy and was offered assistance getting into the Naval Academy. But, Eisman continues, “[Warner’s] father, a Washington physician, had other ideas. He rang up the president of Washington & Lee University, his alma mater, ‘and he said, ‘Frank, my little boy is home from the Navy and he wants to come to Washington & Lee,’ the senator recalled. ‘And they had a talk, and he put the phone down, and he said, “The president says for you to get on down and sign up.” That’s it. That’s the way America treated the World War II generation. I’m not saying it’s just John Warner. That was the way America opened its arms … I wasn’t any great hero. I’d just done what I was supposed to do.’”

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