Transcript of Speaker Pelosi’s Remarks at the Lying in State of The Honorable Harry Mason Reid
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Vice President Kamala Harris, Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Congressional Leadership and other Members of Congress for the lying in state of The Honorable Harry Mason Reid in the United States Capitol Rotunda. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, Madam Vice President, Distinguished Congressional Leaders and our special guests, the family of Harry Reid. Today, as Speaker of the House, it is my solemn and official honor to welcome back to the United States Capitol a legendary leader of great integrity, a pioneering patriot, and our dear friend, Harry Mason Reid.
On behalf of the Congress, I extend a special welcome to his loving wife, his rock, Landra, with whom he shared a beautiful love and happiness. Their happiness was a source of joy to all of us who love them. Their children, Lana, Rory, Josh, Key and Leif, all of whom – and his grandchildren – all of whom he was very, very proud.
On Saturday, we gathered in Nevada for a celebration of Harry's life. Listening to the leadership of his church and the adoring comments of his children, it is clear that Harry's strength sprang from his faith and his family. And, his patriotism springs from his love of our country and his commitment to its future.
It is fitting that we pay final tribute to Harry here in the United States Capitol. It is here where he stood as a sentinel of democracy on the Capitol Police Force, as he worked his way through law school. It is here where he served for more than three decades representing his beloved home state of Nevada, including two terms in the House of Representatives. Chuck always says he spent decades in the Senate. And you're talking about – it is here where where his portrait hangs in these hallowed halls, offering a source of strength and inspiration to us all.
From his humble roots in Searchlight to the spotlight of Capitol Hill, his entire life was defined by defying long odds. The twelve years that he and I served together as Leaders in our respective Houses allowed me the privilege of watching him defy those odds every day. Indeed, to see him lead and legislate was to see a master at work – with a brilliant strategic mind, command of the Rules and respect for his Senators.
And despite long odds, with his leadership in the Congress, working together with President Obama and then-Vice President Biden, we forged great progress for American families: the American Recovery Act, the Dodd-Frank reforms and the Affordable Care Act, to name a few.
And, as we all know, Harry truly loved his home state of Nevada. Over his entire career, he fought tirelessly for Nevada in every possible way – for its working families – whether preserving its natural environment or protecting its political environment, including its coveted role in the presidential selection process.
As one who served for more than, for more than twelve years, there's much more I want to say about Harry. But, as you all know, he was a man of a few words, and he would want us all to be of a few words. As has been referenced by Chuck – Leader Schumer and others who knew him, when we spoke on the phone – we spoke on the phone nearly every day, legislative day, and sometimes more than once a day. So, I probably hold the record for being hung up on more than anybody.
Many times I would call him back and say: ‘Harry, I was only beginning to thank you and praise you for what you had done.’ ‘I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear it.’
He was so modest. As he came – referenced his retirement, announced his retirement, I said ‘Harry, I want to have a big dinner, fly in your friends from around the country and certainly from Nevada, starting with your family, to pay tribute to you.’
‘I don't want you to spend the money. Spend it on feeding the poor. I don't want to hear any praise.’
That's how he was. Needless to say, his humility made him, some would say, unique in the political arena. It also made him truly beloved by so many who work in these halls, whether his colleagues, whether his friends in the House and the Senate, whether maintenance people, Capitol Police, those who uphold the institution of the Congress of the United States, every one of us, Harry.
Chuck talked about gifts. I had – at the end of his term, he came over to my office and said: ‘I have something for you – I want you to remember me by.’ I thought it might be a note or a photo or something, right? Instead, he brought in and unwrapped a bald eagle, an American symbol. A bald eagle – stuffed, but still with the wind, the breeze fluttering its wings.
I said, ‘Harry, what happened? Did you go hunting and accidentally shoot a bald eagle, an endangered species?’ He said, ‘No. He flew into a live wire. So, I call him Sparky.’
I said, ‘Okay, well, I’ll accept it then, Sparky.’ But, with his permission, and appropriately, we have named him Harry. Sparky flew from the Leader's Office to the Speaker's Office – now, Harry.
As we know, before Harry entered the political arena, he could hold his own in the boxing ring. So, it is fitting to close, I think, by quoting Muhammad Ali, who Harry admired. And, his immortal words capture Harry's fighting spirit. Muhammad Ali said, ‘Impossible is not a declaration. It is a dare.’
Harry would be the first to admit that he wasn't the biggest, the loudest or the strongest. But, he was tough and relentless. He conquered the impossible. And, he made the world a better place. Harry Reid made the world a better place.
History will remember him as one of the most consequential Senate Majority Leaders of all time. But, those of us fortunate enough to know him and love him will remember, also, his character and compassion, his goodness. His goodness.
To his many loved ones: thank you for sharing Harry Reid with the country and with the Congress. May it be a comfort to you, Landra, to your beloved children and grandchildren and great grandchild, and the great state of Nevada, that the grateful nation mourns your loss, that so many people are praying for you at this sad time.
God truly blessed America with the life and leadership of Harry Reid, Leader Harry Reid. May he rest in peace.