Master politician and D-Day hero, Senator James Strom Thurmond (1902-2003) was born on this day and grew up in the small town of Edgefield, South Carolina.
He was a farmer, teacher, school superintendent, and lawyer before entering public office in 1932 as a Democrat. He ran for president in 1948 as a "Dixiecrat,"and segregationist, then switched to the Republican Party to support Barry Goldwater in 1964.
"Nothing awes me," joked the controversial senator. "Presidents come and go, but I remain."
"Ol' Strom" had a reputation for standing up for what he believed in --right or wrong-- and speaking the common man's language. A teetotaler and physical fitness buff, he performed 100 pushups for reporters on his 65th birthday. He was still doing pushups at 90.
"None of us has ever seen a senator like Senator Thurmond," said West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd. "He is a true legend in this institution."
Elected to his 8th term in 1997, he became the longest serving Senator in U.S. history. When his term ended in January 2003, he had just turned 100. As Senior Republican in the Senate, President protempore in the House, and respected authority on military issues, he once said, "I can say without equivocation I am proud of the work I've done."
"People ask me how I want to remembered," assessed the man who was history's oldest and longest-serving senator. "Honest, patriotic, and helpful."
Live without apology.