Biden, Lawmakers Honor Murtha at the Capitol

Vice President Biden joined, lawmakers, dignitaries and cabinet members at the Capitol Wednesday for a memorial service honoring the late-Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) who passed away unexpectedly last month.

Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) quoted Shakespeare’s famous “All the world’s stage” soliloquy from As You Like It when invoking Murtha’s memory.

“All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances. And one man in his time plays many parts,” Bishop said. “Thank you Jack for playing so many roles in so many of our lives.”

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) served with Murtha on the powerful House Defense Apparitions Subcommittee. Murtha chaired the panel that orders the Pentagon how to spend its money.

“A giant oak now rests in the Allegheny foothills,” Kaptur said. “His Irish eyes were always smiling. Unless you were the enemy.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was one of Murtha’s biggest allies in Congress. In fact she backed Murtha over House Majority Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to be her deputy when Democrats seized control of the House in 2006.

During her speech, the speaker described the “Pennsylvania Corner” in the southeast nook of the House chamber.

“It’s where Jack held court,” Pelosi said, noting how the Pennsylvania delegation would crowd around Murtha. “Members would come from across the country and across the aisle to get Jack’s blessing.”

Vice President Biden described Murtha as “one helluva guy.”

Mr. Biden spoke of how Murtha called him in 1974 to seek assistance with his first campaign for Congress. Biden was a junior senator at the time and admits he had “never heard” of Murtha.

A Pennsylvania native, the vice president traveled to Murtha’s Johnstown, PA district to stump for him.

“I know when I campaigned for him he was ahead by five points and then he won by 122 votes,” Biden said, drawing laughter. “There’s nothing I can do that will hurt him now.”

Murtha died February 8 of complications stemming from gallbladder surgery.