Thursday, July 1, 2010


I didn’t know much more than the usual talking points about Senator Robert C. Byrd — and certainly didn’t know as much as about him as his con-stituents in West Vir-ginia or his colleagues on (and off) the Hill. But I do have one personal connection to the late Mr. Byrd, albeit a distant one.

When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, we had very little money. It was thanks in part to a Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship that I was able to attend college (something very few in my extended family had done). At the time of my award (1989), the program was only four years old, so I suppose you might say I got one of the first. At the time, I knew even less about Mr. Byrd, but I was very grateful and sent him a letter of personal thanks. I remember receiving a warm letter in response. I knew even then that he hadn’t evaluated the applications or decided on the recipients himself, but I wanted to thank some-one — why not the man for whom the award had been named?

I learned later that this was the only merit-based scholarship at the federal level (funded by the Department of Education). It was non-renewable at the time of my award, but the year after I earned my B.A., Congress amended the law to allow recipients meeting certain standards in their first year of college to receive the same award for three subsequent years. I am still grateful for the assistance to this day. And it all goes back to Mr. Byrd’s lifelong dedication to learning.

Thank you, Mr. Byrd, and requiescas in pace.


  1. The FishWife7/14/2010 5:18 PM

    It is quite amazing to learn something new about you after all these decades together. I like it. Very kind and well-written.

  2. I’m full of surprises, eh? :)