From freedom rides to freedom marches to leading Freedom Summer. From tear gas to jail cells to brutal, hateful beatings. With truly death-defying sacrifices and an almost irrational, love-fueled persistence in the cause of our country, John Lewis has spent his life dedicated to the freedoms, liberties and justice we enjoy.
In the 1960s, Lewis was one of the "Big Six" civil rights leaders, and today he is the last remaining person alive who spoke at the March on Washington. In the decades since, he has shown through his tireless work in Congress that service isn't a sometimes thing but an all-the-time thing; that leadership isn't a title or position but a way of life; and that love of country isn't a verbal profession but something that is evidenced daily in how you live and give and love your countrymen and countrywomen.
I am not sure a week goes by in the Capitol, where I often see Lewis, that I don't feel the inexpressible gratitude and debt that I owe—that we all owe—to this living legend. Look closely at his shoulders. They are worn from helping my generation, and generations yet unborn, stand higher and taller. And they are still laboring, still sturdy.
Booker is a U.S. Senator from New Jersey