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Robert Byrd

Robert Carlyle Byrd (born November 20, 1917) is a Democrat in the United States Senate.

Byrd was born in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina in 1917. Byrd attended West Virginia public schools and was later a student at Beckley College, Concord College, Morris Harvey College, and Marshall College, all in West Virginia. He graduated from American University Law School in 1963.

Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan for a period of time in the early 1940s. In a letter he wrote in 1946, he said, "The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia." However, by the time he ran for Congress in 1952, he announced, "After about a year, I became disinterested, quit paying my dues, and dropped my membership in the organization. During the nine years that have followed, I have never been interested in the Klan."

He was first elected to the Senate in 1958 and has held the position ever since. Byrd is currently the "Father of the Senate" - the Senator with the longest continuous service. As the longest-serving Democratic Senator, he has held the office of President Pro Tem of the Senate three times, most recently from 2001-2003.

Stance on 2003 US-Iraq War

Sen. Byrd opposed President Bush's order to invade Iraq as dangerously misguided, saying on March 19, 2003:

"Today I weep for my country. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. ... Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned. ... We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance. ... After war has ended the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America's image around the globe. ... May God continue to bless the United States of America in the troubled days ahead, and may we somehow recapture the vision which for the present eludes us."

Political timeline

In 1965, the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program was created by Congress as a federally funded, state-administered program. It awards $1500 per semester to graduating high school seniors who continue on to higher education on the basis of academic merit.

Byrd has a cameo role as a Confederate general in the Warner Bros. film Gods and Generals (2003).

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