A landmark birthday

Published 8:23 pm Monday, March 12, 2012

It’s not just anyone who gets to celebrate his birthday at Mount Vernon, the former home of George Washington, the father of our nation and one of the greatest men to call himself a Virginian. But not everyone has had the historic influence on Virginia and the nation that John Warner has had.

When he retired from the United States Senate in January 2009, Warner had logged 30 years and five terms as a member of that legislative body, making him, at the time, the second-longest serving senator in the history of the U.S. Senate.

Warner, who recently celebrated his 85th birthday with 100 friends — including a couple from Suffolk — at Mount Vernon, was long known for his support of the U.S. military. He also was a veteran of World War II. Considering George Washington’s own military service at the head of the nation’s first army, it was especially fitting for such a staunch defender of the military to be honored in the general’s historic home.

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Warner was always a particularly good friend to Tidewater, whose naval base and other military installations always found in him a strong supporter during Base Realignment and Closure proceedings and whenever the time came to argue on behalf of a new aircraft carrier or submarine to supplement the U.S. naval fleet. As a former Secretary of the Navy, his connection to that branch of the armed services assured that he’d fight gallantly for whatever resources the Navy needed.

The occasion of his 85th birthday celebration was a private affair in a public landmark. Whether they knew him personally or not, however, Virginians of all political affiliations — especially those in Tidewater — have great reason to appreciate his work on their behalf and to congratulate him on this landmark birthday. Happy birthday, Senator Warner.