Alaska Delegation Pays Tribute to Senator Ted Stevens

Official Portrait of “Alaskan of the Century” Unveiled in U.S. Capitol

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, today joined in celebrating the life and legacy of the late Senator Ted Stevens and his contributions to Alaska and the nation. The Alaska Congressional Delegation joined members of the Stevens family, friends, congressional colleagues, and former staff at a ceremonial unveiling of a portrait of Senator Stevens, which will be hung in the U.S. Capitol. At the time he left office, Senator Stevens was the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senator in history.

The portrait, sponsored by the U.S. Senate Commission on Art, will be part of its Senate Leadership Portrait Collection, which honors past Leaders and Presidents Pro Tempore. The portrait recognizes Senator Ted Stevens’ service as President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate from 2003 to 2007. It was painted by Dean Larson, a former intern of Senator Stevens from 1980-1981, who grew up in Palmer, Alaska.

PHOTOS: Click here for high-res photos of the unveiling.

VIDEO: Click here for video of the unveiling.

“Every American should know who Ted was and why he so clearly deserves this honor. Ted dedicated his life to public service, spending more than six decades fighting for the state and country that he loved. Ted was a World War II veteran, he helped Alaska achieve its dream of statehood, and in his forty years in this chamber, he was both a leader and a force to be reckoned with,” said Senator Murkowski. “I hope this portrait of Ted will be a daily reminder for those of us who serve here – that we can work together, even on the hardest of days; that if we do, we can achieve great things for the American people; and that sometimes, that just might require us to say ‘to hell with politics’ – just do what’s right.”

“The spirit of Ted Stevens lives with us in Congress, throughout the country, and certainly in Alaska. And now we have this beautiful painting in the Capitol—created by an exceptional Alaska artist—to reflect that spirit,” said Senator Sullivan. “Senator Stevens’ service to our country and our state is an example to all. His whole career was spent fighting for our country and for those across the globe who shared a thirst for freedom. But his true love was Alaska, and his true passion was the‘Alaskan Dream’— a dream of an Alaska with promises of the 21st century ‘springing up from the Arctic.’ An Alaska where our federal government works with us, not against us, to achieve our destiny and to develop our resources. An Alaska that lives up to the potential the country saw in it when Congress voted to allow the territory to become the 49th state. Ted Stevens brought us closer to that dream and calls on each of us to carry on his legacy and fight for the state we all love.”

“Senator Ted Stevens was my colleague and my mentor, but most importantly he was my friend. Our families were very close. We would hunt and fish together, and when we were both in Washington, D.C., we were legislative partners focused on getting things done for our great state and its people. Ted’s life was one of service to Alaska and service to his country. Ted was a quintessential public servant -- he fought for our country in World War II, would go on to serve in the State Legislature, and spent the remainder of his career standing up for Alaskans in the United States Senate. He was a force to be reckoned with but was also a man of great faith and dedication to family. The day we lost Ted was a dark one for our state and country, and not a day goes by where I don’t think of my friend and his legacy. However, Ted’s family and friends can rest easily knowing that his fingerprints continue to be felt across Alaska, and his deep love of our state lives on in our young people,” said Congressman Young. “Today’s portrait unveiling is a special day for all who knew him. It is my great hope that future generations of Alaskans can look upon this portrait and be reminded of a man who gave his all to our state and country. I would like to thank everybody who worked hard to make this possible – particularly the Ted Stevens Foundation. I know Ted is looking down and is proud of everyone continuing the good work he did here on earth. May God bless Ted Stevens, his family, and all those who have been and will be inspired by Alaska’s ‘Uncle Ted.’”

Stevens devoted more than six decades of his life to public service. He served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II, flying missions in the China-Burma-India theater in support of the Flying Tigers. He later worked at the Department of the Interior, under then-Secretary Fred Seaton, as his point man in the push for statehood for Alaska. After arriving in the Senate in 1968, Stevens went on to chair five committees and served as a member of Republican leadership for nearly a decade. His legacy includes an incredible number of measures that built Alaska and bettered America, including legislation to settle most Alaska Native land claims, enable the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and protect and sustain America’s fisheries.

Stevens was a staunch proponent of national security and traveled the world to visit our military men and women. As a longtime leader on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, he worked tirelessly to ensure those who serve our country in uniform had the best equipment, better pay, and needed care.

As an appropriator, Stevens secured federal funding that allowed thousands of rural Alaskans to gain access to basic water and sewer infrastructure, telemedicine, bypass mail, and essential air service. He was a strong supporter of Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act, which provides equal opportunity for women to participate in sports, and authored legislation to create the U.S. Olympic Committee.

In 2000, Stevens was voted Alaskan of the Century. The Anchorage International Airport is named for him, his beneficial impact can be seen and felt all throughout the 49th state, and Alaskans celebrate his legacy each year on Ted Stevens Day—the fourth Saturday of July.