Before adjourning last week, the Senate passed a resolution praising the accomplishments of the late progressive Senator from Minnesota Paul Wellstone, who died in a tragic plane crash on October 25, 2002.
The measure introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) stated that “Senator Paul Wellstone should be remembered for his compassion and leadership on social issues throughout his career,” particularly his tireless work to advance mental health parity for all Americans.
While introducing the resolution on the Senate floor, Durbin recalled one particular moment that stood out in his mind that exemplified Wellstone’s vision and courage:
I can recall the last time I saw him. He was a few feet away from me here. It was the night we cast our vote on the Iraqi war. It was a vote that was a hard one. …
Twenty-three of us voted against the war that night. I was one, Paul Wellstone was another. It was even later than now that night, and I came to the well on the floor to say goodbye to Paul because we were both off for the reelection campaigns of 4 years ago. I came over to wish him well, and I said, “Paul, I hope that vote doesn’t cost you the election.” He said, “You know, it is OK if it does because that is what I believe and that is who I am. The people of Minnesota would expect nothing less from me.” It was the last time I ever saw him. He went home, and within 2 weeks he was killed in a plane crash with his wife and staff members.