Richard Lugar is being remembered as an American statesman who changed the lives of millions for the better.
Lugar’s funeral on the northside attracted hundreds of mourners, from fellow U-S senators to the Hoosiers who worked with him in Washington and as mayor of Indianapolis. In a two-and-a-half-hour service, speakers sought to capture the scope of a half-century of public service.
Former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn recalled their work on the Nunn-Lugar Act, which eliminated nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan after the breakup of the Soviet Union and secured 250 tons of nuclear material. While the global stakes were high, Nunn says it was typical of Lugar’s approach, as he not only worked across the aisle to pass the law, but paid attention to what many senators neglect: watching over the law’s implementation once it was passed.
Former World Food Program executive director Jim Morris was Lugar’s chief of staff when Lugar was elected mayor of Indianapolis. He says Lugar’s last major bill in the Senate was a global food initiative — he says Lugar often called food security the keystone of foreign policy. But Morris reminded the congregation that feeding the hungry was a priority for Lugar dating back to his first run for office, when he ran for the Indianapolis school board on a platform of ending I-P-S’s refusal to accept federal money for the school lunch program.
Purdue president and former Governor Mitch Daniels got his start in public service in Lugar’s administration, then moved with him to Washington as chief of staff. He says his decades of friendship and work with Lugar made him a better human being — he says the “purity” of Lugar’s character couldn’t help but rub off on everyone who worked with him.
And Daniels says Lugar’s integrity also made him “an electromagnet for talent” — he says recruiting staff was the easiest part of his job. He and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both referenced the “coaching tree” of government officials who can trace their start to Lugar.
The funeral brought together leaders of all three branches of government. McConnell and Vice President Pence delivered eulogies, and Chief Justice and Indiana native John Roberts joined them on Air Force Two to Indianapolis. Pence says Lugar was “a clarion voice” for the importance of America’s stature in the world.