Today I flicked into an app I have called ‘This day in history’, which is very good, by the way, i learned that a US senator died today, and on a whim of not know who he was, or what he had accomplished, i checked him out. And was surprised that a bigger deal about his death wasn’t made.
Frank Lautenberg died today, June 3rd, 2013, of viral pneumonia, as a serving senator. But his history was what made me a little sad that he wasn’t deemed important enough to make big news.
Born January 23rd, 1924, in New jersey to Mollie and Sam Lautenberg, impoverished jewish immigrants, who arrived in the United States as infants. When he was 19, his beloved, hard working father died of cancer.
He served 1942-1946 in the signal corps during World War 2, then, due to help from the GI Bill, graduated from business school.
He saw off repeated attempts on his position in the senatorship, eventually his rivals had to resort to calling out his age as a problem, they still failed.
While in office, he helped, passed and campaigned for several bills, which stand in place today. He retired, and was called back, by popular demand, to return to senate. He agreed, and won again and again.
He was considered liberal, being pro-choice and standing behind better gun control. He wanted stiffer penalties on drunk-driving, car jacking and car theft. He authored the bill that stopped smoking on commercial airlines, making flight more comfortable and safer for all, and that’s from a heavy smoker.
He authored the Ryan White care act, that provides care to AIDS sufferers. He was also a leading voice on a campaign to have an investigation into the Bush administration payment of columnists.
In 2007, he proposed the Denying firearms and explosives to dangerous terrorists act, which, funnily enough, banned the sale of firearms and explosives to known terrorists. Shock.
He continued working, even while having treatment for B-cell lymphoma, and after some months of treatment, he was declared cancer-free. Sadly he was returned to hospital after a fall, which led to massive gastric bleeding.
He died in Manhattan, one of the last serving senators to have served in WW2, survived by his second wife, and four children.
I was amazed to learn that nothing had previously been said about his life, or his death, it didn’t play on any radios, and I didn’t find it in newspapers, I had to look at Wikipedia. I only know this now because it was a name that I had never heard, I had never knowingly encountered. I like learning, i enjoy gathering information, but i was a little sad that this man who had accomplished quite a lot in his life was relegated to a sad little footnote on the ‘Deaths’ page of an app on my phone.
So i ask you all today, go to wiki, or better yet, your local library, and learn about something you don’t know about. Look in the reference section, find a topic, or a person, and learn. Absorb the knowledge of apple species of northern Europe, or how trains have improved over the past century. Read about submarines, and how the first one was around during the American civil war. Learn about civil wars, their reasons and lessons. But above all, learn.
Rest in peace Frank, you did good, you can rest now, and your family can be proud.