INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Silently, military pall bearers carried the casket of the late U.S. Senator Richard Lugar into the rotunda of the Indiana Statehouse so that Hoosiers could pay their last respects to the Shortridge High School graduate and former mayor who became a leading American statesman and advocate for nuclear disarmament around the globe.
Lugar died on April 29 at the age of 87.
Governor Eric Holcomb and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett welcomed Senator Lugar back home again to Indiana one final time.
“He cared not only about his love of this country and our future more so than any red or blue political colors,” said Holcomb, “and now he will watch down to the heavenly blue sky above forever he will watch down on his beloved state.”
Holcomb was followed to the podium by the man became mayor 40 years after Lugar left the city’s top job to run for the U.S. Senate.
“He fought hatred. He did not court it. He calmed fear. He did not attempt to use it. He extinguished violence. He did not continence it,” said Hogsett. “He was smart enough to know that doing what is right for so long can be costly but he stayed the course always. It is why he now belongs to the ages.
“In his love and through his courage Richard Lugar helped bring more peace to an increasingly dangerous world,” continued the mayor. “He did so in every nuclear, chemical and biological weapon disarmed. He did so to every starving child who now has food. He did so through every public servant who extends a hand across the aisle.”
Generations of those public servants gathered in the statehouse south lobby to express their condolences to Lugar’s family and share memories about the senator.
“I think his approach to life and his approach to holding office proved to everyone who could see it where Indiana was a place where you could make a difference and perform various systems and services and roles in a way that allowed you to do it in cooperation with other people and not by beating up on them,” said former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard. “Its hard to imagine what Indianapolis and Indiana would be like if Richard Lugar hadn’t been a part of public service. It’s a happier, healthier, safer, more decent place.”
“You know the thing that’s got me today is how all the millions of people around the world who will never know how much he affected their lives from foreign policy, ag policy, you name it, he affected so many people, and he represented Indiana beautifully,” ex-GOP State Chairman Mike McDaniel. “Dick Lugar was so nice to so many people and I never heard him say a discouraging word about anybody and he was such a lovely man and he will truly be missed. We need more people like him today.”
Congresswoman Susan Brooks, a republican from Hamilton County, recalled how Senator Lugar endorsed her assignment as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana right after the tragedy of 9/11 in 2001.
“We had to pull together as a country, the executive branch of government, the legislative branch, and pull this country together and get through the trauma after the terrorist attack.”
Brooks said her staff is constantly checking the congresswoman’s status on the Lugar Index, a ranking of bipartisanship cooperation maintained by the Lugar Center.
“I do think of that on those tough votes but the work that we do we always worked out a bipartisan partner because he led the way.”
The statehouse will remain open until sunset at 8:50 p.m. for the general public to pay its respects.
Vice President Mike Pence is expected to deliver remarks at the senator’s funeral at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church on the north side of Indianapolis Wednesday afternoon.