Wednesday Karyn and I were honored to have my official portrait as Majority Leader unveiled at the U.S. Capitol. On a beautiful day in Washington, surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues in the historic Old Senate Chamber, we unveiled the portrait painted by our personal friend and nationally recognized artist Shane Neal.
We were all particularly honored to have President George W. Bush make remarks, and to have former Vice President Cheney and former Secretary Don Rumsfeld and his wife Joyce with us. Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell offered generous and kind words to top off the ceremony.
I also spoke briefly, thanking family and friends. My short message centered on the foundational philosophy of the citizen legislator, an idea my mentor and friend Majority Leader Howard Baker both embodied and promoted. Leaving the Senate and the Majority Leader position voluntarily, I do believe having fewer career politicians in Washington is the way to go and I know it would improve the worsening partisan rancor that sacrifices civility in our national discussions.
I pointed out that during the 50-year period between 1810 until 1859, during which the Old Senate Chamber was in use, 17 doctors were elected to the Senate. Contrast that to the half century of 1950 until 2000 there was only one doctor elected to the Senate, and that was me!
I was also proud to have a distinguished and sixth-generation Tennessean, Michael Shane Neal, paint the portrait that will now hang alongside so many historic figures in the Capitol. Shane has also painted portraits of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Senators Arthur Vandenburg and Robert Byrd (both in the Capitol) and most importantly our three sons Bryan, Jonathan and Harrison.
Finally, if you are reading this email, then I thank you for your generous support over all these years, without which we would never have made it to Washington. I hope you will continue to support me as together we strive together to heal disease, division, and difficulty in our world and improve K-12 education.
Senator Bill Frist, M.D.