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Byrd Makes History

November 15, 2009
By JOSELYN KING Political Writer

WHEELING - U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd again makes history this week.

On Wednesday Byrd, D-W.Va, becomes the longest-serving member ever in the U.S. Congress. He will have served 20,775 days at the U.S. Capitol, which comes to 56 years and 320 days

The milestone comes just two days short of Byrd's 92nd birthday on Friday.

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Gov. Joe Manchin has announced the state will commemorate Byrd's tenure in Washington with a celebration in Charleston on Wednesday.

Manchin will join members of the Legislature, congressional staff members and fellow West Virginians "to pay tribute, celebrate and recognize the many accomplishments of the state's senior senator," according to a released statement.

"On Nov. 18, a West Virginian breaks all records and makes history," Manchin said. "Sen. Byrd sets the gold standard for what it means to be an outstanding public official, and next week he will reach a historic national milestone for length of service.

"Sen. Byrd is a man of the people who fights tirelessly for us every single day in Washington. West Virginians are so thankful for Sen. Byrd's service to our state and this ceremony gives us an opportunity to applaud his efforts. Gayle and I invite all West Virginians to participate in this very special day."

The celebration starts at 3 p.m. on the second floor of the rotunda at the State Capitol in Charleston, just in front of the oversized statue of Byrd on display there. An exhibit highlighting the senator's accomplishments will follow the ceremony. He is not expected to attend.

Byrd on Wednesday surpasses in tenure former U.S. Sen. Carl Haden, D-Ariz., who served 20,774 days in Congress between Feb. 19, 1912 and Jan. 3, 1969.

First sworn in as a member of the U.S. House in January 1953, Byrd has been a member of the U.S. Senate since Jan. 3, 1959.

He became the longest-serving member ever in that chamber on June 12, 2006.

Byrd was elected to his ninth term in Congress in 2006, and the seat is next up for election in 2012.

Byrd was born Cornelius Calvin Sale Jr. on Nov. 20, 1917 in Wilkesburo, N.C. His mother died during the influenza epidemic of 1918, and he was brought to live in West Virginia by his aunt and uncle, Vlurma and Titus Byrd. The couple renamed him Robert C. Byrd.

Byrd began his political career when first elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1946. Since that time, he has never lost an election.

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