Dec 31 2004

Senator Hollings Has Served Us Well

Op-ed by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

Trying to follow legends like Fritz Hollings and Strom Thurmond is a tough act. South Carolinians have relied on these two great gentlemen for generations. Fritz Hollings’ retirement is truly an end of an era, and he will be missed by the United States Senate and South Carolina. In paying tribute to Senator Hollings, I first want to recognize the most important people in his life: his wife Peatsy, his children and grandchildren. The Hollings family has been a great benefit to South Carolina and there is no better way to be introduced to our State than to meet Peatsy Hollings. If you had to create an image of a Senator, Fritz Hollings would be the model. He looks, acts, and sounds like a Senator. Senator Hollings has served his state and nation well both during war and peace. In 1942 he graduated from the Citadel as part of a class that received their diplomas in the morning and went off to fight a war the next day. He fought in North Africa and Europe receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons. If Senator Hollings had done nothing else in life, this would have been an outstanding legacy. At the age of 26, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. He went on to become Lieutenant Governor and the youngest Governor in South Carolina history at the time. As Governor, Hollings let it be known that South Carolina would be a government of laws, not men. He challenged our state to accept the inevitable and led the way to the successful integration of Clemson University in 1963. During his Governorship he created our technical school system, which is among the best in the nation. We have thousands of South Carolinians receiving college level education through our technical schools. We have 16 technical colleges now, over 160 career programs and high-tech professionals who have made it possible for major domestic and international business concerns to come to our state. In 1966, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. Senator Hollings’ legislative accomplishments are numerous and varied. His efforts to preserve South Carolina’s environment, particularly our coastal zones, have had national impact. The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 was the first federal legislation that addressed the needs of coastal areas in the United States. This earned Hollings “Environmentalist of the Year” standing from nearly every group in the nation. In 1976, Hollings’ Ocean Dumping Act and the Maritime Transportation Act changed the way we treat our coastlines as a nation. The coastline of South Carolina and every other coast in the United States will be the beneficiary of his time in the Senate. The first and only national park in South Carolina, Congaree Swamp, was approved a year ago. This accomplishment, along with the ACE Basin project will ensure that future generations of South Carolinians will experience the South Carolina that Fritz Hollings knew as a young man. Senator Hollings was talking about preserving social security and reducing deficits before it was fashionable. Gramm-Rudman-Hollings was an attempt in the 1980s to bring fiscal sanity to the Congress, and has paid dividends to this day. Senator Hollings has been a strong advocate for improved health care and fighting poverty in South Carolina. The Hollings Cancer Institute at MUSC is a direct result of his efforts to provide world class cancer research and treatment to thousands of South Carolinians. I intend to build upon what Senator Hollings has started at MUSC and the possibilities for healthcare breakthroughs are immense. In conclusion, Senator Hollings has been a worthy political opponent, a strong advocate for South Carolina, and truly a larger than life figure on the political stage. He has an unsurpassed wit, sharp tongue, and for those who know him best, a big heart. He and his staff have been tremendously kind and helpful during my first two years in the United States Senate, and for that I will be forever grateful. I have been honored to call him my senior Senator and wish Fritz and Peatsy all the best in their future endeavors. They have truly served South Carolina well. ####