St. Luke’s United Methodist Church
1:40 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Governor Holcomb, Chief Justice Roberts, Leader McConnell, Senator Leahy, Senator Nunn, Governor Daniels, distinguished members of the Senate and the House, members of the clergy, friends of this precious family, my fellow Hoosiers — and, most of all, to Char, Mark, Bob, John, David, and to the entire Lugar family:
It is deeply humbling to have the privilege to be here, among so many distinguished Americans — so many who knew and loved this great man — to celebrate and to give thanks for a life of service.
The Bible tells us to mourn with those who mourn and to grieve with those who grieve. And on behalf of a grateful nation, Karen and I offer our deepest sympathies — Char, to you, and to your entire family — and to all who cherished and knew this husband, father, mayor, senator, and true American statesman: Richard G. Lugar.
Richard Lugar lived a great American life. He raised a wonderful family. He served his country in uniform. He was a dedicated public servant who led this city, this state, and this nation with integrity for more than 50 years.
The Old Book admonishes us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” And for those who knew him well, they knew Dick Lugar never stopped running.
Born in 1932 to Marvin and Bertha Lugar here in Indianapolis, he was a standout student. Eagle Scout. First in his class at Shortridge High. First at Denison University. A Rhodes Scholar.
While he was studying overseas in London, he ran right into the American embassy and enlisted into the United States Navy.
After he came home, he kept running. He helped run a machine business for his family. He ran for the Indianapolis school board. And before long, he was running this city.
You know, we all remember the Indianapolis that elected Dick Lugar mayor, back in 1967. It was a good place, but it was a very different place. Affectionately known as “Indiananoplace.”
But Dick Lugar changed all that. He adopted reforms like Unigov that literally transformed our capital city into the most — one of the most dynamic capital cities in America.
Perhaps the greatest monument to Dick’s leadership here in Indiana is the skyline of Indianapolis — that world-class city that he leaves behind.
For many, that legacy of transformational leadership would have been enough — but not for Dick Lugar. No sooner had he set into motion the reforms that would transform this city, he was off to another race. And in 1974, he took on a long-shot race for the United States Senate against Senator Birch Bayh, a rising star in national politics and his party.
You know, it’s remarkable to think that two giants of 20th century Indiana politics departed this world within a few weeks of each other. It’s the end of an era. And on this day, I know Dick wouldn’t mind if we took a moment to express our gratitude and condolences to the Bayh family, as they grieve the loss of another great Indiana public servant.
Now, while he came up short in that race, Dick Lugar kept running. And in 1976, he won. And over his 36 years in the Senate, Senator Richard Lugar became the longest-serving senator in the history of the state, was a candidate for President of the United States. But he’ll be remembered among a pantheon of senators who commanded the respect of his peers in both parties and who exercised enormous influence in foreign affairs.
He was a working senator; he always put Indiana first. As those of us who served in Congress at the same time knew, his work on the Agriculture Committee always put Hoosier farmers first.
For his years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Lugar emerged as an American statesman whose contributions to our nation are countless. As you’ve heard, described by his partner in this legislation, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Senator Lugar crafted a measure that led to the historic elimination of more than 7,500 nuclear warheads, leaving the world safer as a result.
He also was a clarion voice for American leadership in the world. Senator Dick Lugar understood that — as he said, that American was a powerful nation, but more importantly, we were a heroic nation. And that we had, as he said, a moral responsibility to foster the concepts of opportunity, free enterprise, the rule of law, and democracy. He would call it the “hope of the world.”
As I traveled around the world as a congressman and a senator, I was always struck by the fact — no matter what capital, anywhere in the world I was — as soon as I told people I was I was from Indiana, the next two words I heard were “Dick Lugar.” And they were always spoken with a smile.
But the truth is, Senator Lugar commanded the admiration of our allies and the respect of our enemies like very few Americans ever had. And for his many contributions to this country, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
And long after he left the Senate, he continued to be called on by world leaders for his wisdom and his counsel. In fact, just last year, President Trump welcomed Senator Lugar and Senator Nunn to the Oval Office to seek their counsel before he departed for his first historic summit with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
But Senator Lugar’s legacy goes well beyond the policies that he championed and the national and international reputation that he earned and so well deserved. It included a generation of leaders that he inspired. I mean, the truth is, Dick Lugar had an eye for talent. You’ve already heard one example of that from this podium today, but you should also know he hired an industrious young staffer who eventually became his Chief of Staff, Governor of Indiana, and, now, Mitch Daniels is President of Purdue University.
And when he was Chairman of the Senatorial Committee in 1984, he took a chance on a first-time candidate for the United States Senate by the name of Mitch McConnell.
And for our part, Karen and I will always be grateful for his encouragement all along our way. Thirty years ago, when we were just getting started — a nervous young couple in politics — in was the senior Senator from Indiana who went door to door with us in Wayne County. And every time we ran the Capital Challenge, he was always there at the finish line — (laughter) — to shake our hand. (Laughter.) Never stopped running.
You know, running wasn’t just how Dick Lugar kept in shape, it was a way of life. I think his running was emblematic of his passion for public service and his relentless drive to make a difference in the life of this nation.
There’s a Boy Scout rule that says you don’t leave a campsite as good as you found it; you leave it better than you found it.
And Dick Lugar left Indiana, America, and the world better than he found it: more secure, more at peace, with freedom on the rise. Few Hoosiers will ever leave as large or indelible a mark on our state or our nation as Richard Lugar.
And yet it was who he was that made him so special. His intellect and backbone were paired with a modesty and kindness not always associated with politics. He was a man utterly without guile and without pretense.
And for all his accomplishments in public life, it didn’t take you too long to figure out what he thought his greatest accomplishment was. It was this wonderful family: his children, his grandchildren, and his marriage to that incredible co-president of the senior class at Denison University. Dick and Char were a team every day of their lives. And, Char, I want to thank you for sharing this great man with our state and nation.
When Char gave us the honor of participating today, she told us that she didn’t want to hold this service in a sports stadium, though they could have filled one anywhere in Indiana. They wanted to hold it here at St. Luke’s — a church that Dick’s family helped found generations ago. Because, as Char told us that night on the phone, “That’s who we are.” And throughout his life, that’s who Dick Lugar was: all about family and faith.
I came across a story about that in a book published in 1988. Years ago, there was a high-school journalism convention, and two young writers from The Shortridge Daily Echo were rooming together at the convention. And as they were turning in for the evening, a young Dick Lugar turned to his roommate and asked if he’d like to join him in prayer.
Years later, that roommate recounted that it was the first time in his life that anyone other than a minister had asked him to pray out loud. And he was taken aback; he rejected the offer with a quick, “No, thanks.” And then, to hide his discomfort, he put the pillow over his head.
But as he laid there, years later he would recount that he heard Dick recite, and I quote, “in a clear unaffected…voice” the words of the Lord’s Prayer. And then to “go on to express his love and concern for his family and friends, asking God’s blessing [on] them.”
His roommate said, years later, quote, “There was nothing bizarre or histrionic about my friend’s prayer, yet it both awed and unnerved me, leaving an impression that…lasted” for the rest of his life.
That’s who Dick Lugar was. And that’s how he will always be remembered by those of us who had the privilege to know him: a man who loved his family, loved his friend, loves this state, and loved this country like few people I’ve ever known. And it all came from a heart of concern for what was best for all.
So Dick Lugar never stopped running throughout his long and industrious life. And that was good for us. But on this day, it can rightly be said that he fought the good fight, he finished the race, and he kept the faith. And Indiana and America and the world are better for it.
May God bless the memory of Richard G. Lugar. May God comfort his family and friends and all who mourn the passing of this truly great man. And may God continue to bless the land he loved.