John C. Stennis was born on August 3, 1901 in Kemper County, Mississippi where he went on to graduate from Mississippi State University in 1923. He earned a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1928 then served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1928 to 1932.
John Stennis served in the United States Senate nearly 42 years, the second-longest tenure in the history of our nation. From his election to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1928, to his retirement as President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate in 1989, he was under continuous oath of public office. His achievements are legend. It is truly remarkable that throughout this long and highly productive career, his honesty and integrity never came into question.
Senator Stennis never stopped marveling at the beauty and majesty of the dome that towers above the United States Capitol where he spent so many long days and nights. He often remarked on its significance as a symbol of freedom and democracy, not only for Americans, but for people throughout the world who look to the United States as a nation that stands for what is right and just. "We must never let it become common in our sight," he would say as he gazed admiringly at the brightly illuminated dome against the night sky.
The life and career of John Stennis is also a monument to what can be achieved through public service. We need to illuminate his example, and hold it high for others to follow. Surely, it will never become common in our sight.