|00:00:00||THANK YOU, MADAM PRESIDENT.|
|00:00:02||AND I ALSO RISE TODAY TO JOIN NEW MEXICO'S SENIOR SENATOR WHO HAS SERVED NEW MEXICO SO WELL.|
|00:00:12||IT'S JUST A REAL HONOR TO JOIN SENATOR BINGAMAN HERE IN PAYING TRIBUTE TO WITH ONE OF OUR GREAT NEW MEXICO CITIZENS, SPEAKER BEN LUJAN.|
|00:00:24||BEN AS SENATOR BINGAMAN SAID IS RETIRING THIS MONTH.|
|00:00:28||HE'S AN ESTEEMED COLLEAGUE OF OURS AND HE'S ALSO OUR GOOD FRIEND, A GOOD FRIEND AT THAT.|
|00:00:34||INDEED, BEN LUJAN IS A FRIEND TO ALL NEW MEXICANS.|
|00:00:38||BEN RECENTLY SAID, AND I QUOTE HIM, "LET US MAKE OUR TIME ON EARTH WORTHWHILE AND DO WHAT'S RIGHT, MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR THE CHILDREN, OUR WORKING FAMILIES, AND OUR ELDERLY"-- END QUOTE.|
|00:00:52||HE HAS LIVED UP TO THAT CHALLENGE THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER.|
|00:00:55||FIGHTING FOR EDUCATION, FOR WORKERS, FOR MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILIES, FOR NATIVE AMERICANS, FOR HEALTH CARE, AND FOR JOBS.|
|00:01:03||IN A WORLD THAT GROWS EVER MORE CYNICAL, BEN LUJAN HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE REAL DEAL.|
|00:01:10||BEN WAS BORN IN 1935 IN THE SMALL COMMUNITY OF NOMBAY, NEW MEXICO, ONE OF NINE CHILDREN.|
|00:01:20||HIS FAMILY LIKE SO MANY STRUGGLED THROUGH THE GREAT DEPRESSION.|
|00:01:24||HE USED TO RELATE TALES OF HIS FATHER HERDING SHEEP IN NEW MEXICO.|
|00:01:30||BEN STILL LIVES ON THE PROPERTY THAT HAS BEEN IN HIS FAMILY FOR THREE GENERATIONS.|
|00:01:34||BEN IS THAT RARE COMBINATION -- HUMBLE BUT TENACIOUS IN WHAT HE BELIEVES IN.|
|00:01:40||HE HAS NEVER FORGOTTEN WHERE HE CAME FROM, AND HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A CHAMPION FOR THE LESS FORTUNATE AMONG US.|
|00:01:47||EVEN IN HIS YOUTH, BEN SHOWED A REMARKABLE TALENT FOR TEAMWORK.|
|00:01:53||FOR PLAYING BY THE RULES, FOR JUST PLAIN HARD WORK.|
|00:01:57||AND FOR DETERMINATION.|
|00:01:59||HE LOVES BASKETBALL, IN HIGH SCHOOL HE WAS THE CAPTAIN OF HIS VARSITY BASKETBALL SQUAD, AND THE GYMNASIUM WHERE THE ELKS PLAY TODAY IS NAMED IN HIS HONOR.|
|00:02:11||BEN LUJAN HAS BEEN LEADING TEAMS EVER SINCE.|
|00:02:14||HE ATTENDED THE COLLEGE OF SANTA FE BUT HAD TO DISENROLL FOR LACK OF MONEY.|
|00:02:18||FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS, HE SOUGHT WORK, WHEREVER HE COULD FIND IT, IN CALIFORNIA, IN NEW MEXICO, WHEREVER HE HAD TO GO TO GET A JOB.|
|00:02:28||HE UNDERSTANDS HARD TIMES.|
|00:02:30||HE KNOWS WHAT IT'S LIKE TO JUST TRY AND MAKE ENDS MEET.|
|00:02:35||AND IN ALL HIS YEARS IN PUBLIC SERVICE, A SENSE OF JUSTICE AND FAIR PLAY HAS ALWAYS BEEN AT HIS CORE.|
|00:02:42||BEN WORKED AS AN IRON MAN IN LOW ALAMOWS.|
|00:02:46||HE JOINED THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BRIDGE, STRUCTURAL AND ORNAMENTAL IRON WORKERS.|
|00:02:52||IN 1959, BEN MARRIED HIS HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEART, THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE, CARMEN.|
|00:02:58||HIS DEVOTED PARTNER NOW FOR OVER HALF A CENTURY, AND THEY BEGAN A FAMILY THAT WOULD GROW TO INCLUDE FOUR CHILDREN, SHIRLEY, JACKIE, JEROME AND CONGRESSMAN BEN RAY LUJAN.|
|00:03:11||AS JEFF SAID, WE'RE FORTUNATE TO HAVE HIM, BEN RAY, SERVING IN OUR DECLARATION AND WE WORK WITH -- DELEGATION AND WE WORK WITH HIM ON MANY OCCASIONS EVERY DAY.|
|00:03:22||BEN BEGAN HIS EXTRAORDINARY CAREER IN PUBLIC SERVICE WHEN HE WAS ELECTED TO THE SANTA FE COUNTY COMMISSION IN 1970.|
|00:03:29||FOUR YEARS LATER, HE WAS ELECTED TO THE NEW MEXICO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.|
|00:03:33||AFTER A QUARTER OF A CENTURY OF SERVICE IN THAT BODY, HE WAS ELECTED SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.|
|00:03:40||HE HAS ALWAYS CALLED ATTENTION TO THE NEEDS OF OTHERS.|
|00:03:44||AND NOT TO HIMSELF.|
|00:03:46||BEN IS AN INSPIRATION, NOT JUST TO THOSE WHO ASPIRE TO A LIFE OF PUBLIC SERVICE, BUT ALSO TO A LIFE OF PERSONAL INTEGRITY.|
|00:03:56||HIS WORD IS HIS BOND.|
|00:03:58||TO HIS FAMILY, TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW MEXICO.|
|00:04:02||HIS PRINCIPLES HAVE ILLUMINATED HIS LIFE AND BRIGHTENED THE LIVES OF ALL WHO KNOW HIM.|
|00:04:07||I COUNT MYSELF AMONG THAT NUMBER.|
|00:04:10||I'M PROUD TO CALL BEN LUJAN MY FRIEND.|
|00:04:14||I WAS PRESENT AT THE OPENING OF THE NEW MEXICO STATE LEGISLATURE LAST MONTH WHEN BEN INFORMED US OF HIS ILLNESS, AN ILLNESS THAT LEFT HIM WEAKENED BUT NOT DEFEATED.|
|00:04:26||LIKE EVERYONE IN THAT ROOM, I WAS DEEPLY SADDENED AT THE NEWS OF BEN'S ILLNESS, BUT THAT SORROW IS TEMPERED BY ADMIRATION, ADMIRATION FOR BEEN, FOR CARMEN, FOR THE ENTIRE LUJAN FAMILY AND FOR THE INCREDIBLE STRENGTH THEY HAVE SHOWN.|
|00:04:42||HE WOULD NOT ALLOW A TERRIBLE ILLNESS TO DISTRACT FROM HIS DUTIES AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE.|
|00:04:48||HE REMAINS STEADFAST IN HIS SERVICES TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW MEXICO, AND EVEN WHILE UNDERGOING CHEMOTHERAPY, HE CONTINUED TO WORK AS SPEAKER.|
|00:04:57||EVEN A DEVASTATING ILLNESS COULD NOT DETER BEN LUJAN FROM THE JOB HE HAD COMMITTED TO DO.|
|00:05:04||AND HIS FAMILY SUPPORTED HIM EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.|
|00:05:08||THAT IS HONOR, THAT IS INTEGRITY, THAT IS COURAGE.|
|00:05:12||NONE OF US WILL EVER FORGET BEN'S BRAVE WORDS THE LAST -- THE DAY LAST MONTH.|
|00:05:20||HE SAID -- QUOTE -- "WHILE THIS HAS TAKEN A TOLL ON ME PHYSICALLY, IT HAS NOT BROKEN MY SPIRIT, MY WILL, MY FAITH, AND MY COMMITMENT TO NEW MEXICO"-- END QUOTE ABOUT SO TO BEN I WANT TO SAY THANK YOU, THANK YOU FOREYOUR SERVICE, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SACRIFICE, THANK YOU FOR YOUR FRIENDSHIP.|
|00:05:39||AS WE CELEBRATE THIS GREAT SON OF NEW MEXICO, I WILL CLOSE WITH THESE LINES FROM THE POET LORD ALFRED TENNYSON.|
|00:05:49||THOUGH MUCH IS TAKEN, MUCH ABIDES AND THOUGH WE ARE NOT NOW THAT STRENGTH WHICH IN THE OLD DAYS MOVED EARTH AND HEAVEN, THAT WHICH WE ARE, WE ARE, ONE EQUAL TEMPER OF HEROIC HEARTS MADE WEAK BY TIME AND FATE BUT STRONG IN WILL TO STRIVE, TO SEEK, TO FIND, AND NOT TO YIELD.|
|00:06:10||THAT, MY FRIEND, IS BEN LUJAN, TO SERVE, TO STRIVE, AND NOT TO YIELD.|
|00:06:14||THANK YOU, MADAM PRESIDENT.|
|00:06:16||AND IT'S A REAL HONOR TO BE HERE ON THE FLOOR WITH SENATOR BINGAMAN AND TALK ABOUT OUR GOOD FRIEND, BEN LUJAN.|
|00:06:30||I YIELD THE FLOOR.|
Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Madam President, I also rise today to join New Mexico's senior Senator, who has served New Mexico so well. It is a real honor to join Senator Bingaman in paying tribute to one of our great New Mexico citizens, Speaker Ben Lujan. Ben, as Senator Bingaman said, is retiring this month. He is an esteemed colleague of ours, and he is also our friend--a good friend at that. Indeed, Ben Lujan is a friend to all New Mexicans. Ben recently said: Let us make our time on Earth ..... worthwhile, and do what is right, and make a difference for the children, our working families, and our elderly.
[Page: S829] He has lived up to that challenge throughout his career, fighting for education, for workers, for middle-class families, for Native Americans, for health care, and for jobs. In a world that grows ever more cynical, Ben Lujan has always been the real deal.
Ben was born in 1935 in the small community of Nambe, NM, one of nine children. His family, like so many, struggled through the Great Depression. He used to relate tales of his father as a sheepherder herding sheep from the Valley Grande to the Chama in New Mexico. Ben still lives on the property that has been in his family for three generations.
Ben is that rare combination--humble but tenacious in what he believes. He has never forgotten from where he came, and he has always been a champion for the less fortunate among us. Even in his youth, Ben showed a remarkable talent for teamwork, for playing by the rules, for just plain hard work, and for determination.
He loves basketball. In high school he was the captain of his high school varsity basketball squad, and the gymnasium where the Pojoaque Elks play today is named in his honor. Ben Lujan has been leading teams ever since.
He attended the College of Santa Fe but had to disenroll for lack of money. For the next couple of years, he sought work wherever he could find it in California and in New Mexico, wherever he had to go to get a job. He understands hard times. He knows what it is like to try to make ends meet. And in all of his years of public service, a sense of justice and fair play has always been at his core.
Ben worked as an iron man in Los Alamos. He joined the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers. In 1959 Ben married his high school sweetheart, the love of his life, Carmen, his devoted partner for over half a century. They began a family that would grow to include four children: Shirley, Jackie, Jerome, and Congressman BEN RAY LUJAN. As Jeff said, we are fortunate to have BEN RAY serving in our delegation, and we have worked with him on many occasions on a daily basis. Ben began his extraordinary career in public service when he was elected to the Santa Fe County Commission in 1970. Four years later he was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives. After a quarter of a century of service in that body, he was elected speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives.
He has always called attention to the needs of others and not to himself. Ben is an inspiration not just to those who aspire to a life of public service but also to a life of personal integrity. His word is his bond to his family and to the people of New Mexico. His principles have illuminated his life and brightened the lives of all who know him. I count myself among that number. I am proud to call Ben Lujan my friend.
I was present at the opening of the New Mexico State Legislature last month when Ben informed us of his illness--an illness that left him weakened but not defeated. Like everyone in that room, I was deeply saddened at the news of Ben's illness, but that sorrow is tempered by admiration--admiration for Ben, for Carmen, for the entire Lujan family and for the incredible strength they have shown. He would not allow a terrible illness to distract from his duties as speaker of the house. He remains steadfast in his services to the people of New Mexico. Even while undergoing chemotherapy, he continued to work as speaker. Even a devastating illness could not deter Ben Lujan from the job he had committed to do, and his family supported him every step of the way. That is honor, that is integrity, and that is courage.
None of us will ever forget Ben's brave words the day last month when he said, ``While this has taken a toll on me physically, it has not broken my spirit, my will, my faith and my commitment to New Mexico.'' So to Ben, I want to say thank you. Thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for your friendship.
As we celebrate this great son of New Mexico, I will close with these lines from the poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson: Though much is taken, much abides, and though we are not now that strength which in the old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are--one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
That, my friends, is Ben Lujan--to serve, to strive, and not to yield.
It is a real honor to be on the floor with Senator Bingaman to talk about our good friend Ben Lujan.
I yield the floor.