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Rep. John Dingell, who was the longest-serving member of U.S. Congress when he died Feb. 7 at the age of 92, dictated a letter to his wife in the hours before his death.

In the letter, published in The Washington Post, Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, reflects on several challenges that Congress acted upon during his time in office, from environmental cleanup to civil rights. He thanks his friends and his wife, Deborah Dingell, also a representative from Michigan and, as Dingell puts it, “the woman who has essentially supported me for almost 40 years.” Finally, he offers some parting thoughts on the role of elected representatives in an democratic government:

“In my life and career I have often heard it said that so-and-so has real power — as in, ‘the powerful Wile E. Coyote, chairman of the Capture the Road Runner Committee.’ It’s an expression that has always grated on me. In democratic government, elected officials do not have power. They hold power — in trust for the people who elected them. If they misuse or abuse that public trust, it is quite properly revoked (the quicker the better).”

Read Rep. John Dingell’s full letter below, as published in the Post:

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