Last week, Sen. John W. Warner (R-VA.) announced his retirement after 29 years in the United States Senate. At his Charlottesville announcement Friday, he asked the media to distribute a handwritten letter to his Virginia constituents:
To my fellow Virginians: Today, I held a press conference on the Grounds of the University of Virginia and announced that I will conclude my service to Virginia as a Senator when I complete this my 5th term on January 6, 2009.
I wanted to write this note to thank you.
The Communities of Charlottesville, Amherst, and Lexington are, to me, hallowed grounds. My ancestors on my Fathers side go back many generations in Amherst; Lexington is home to Washington and Lee University, where my Father graduated in 1903; and I, following Naval service during the last year of World War II, graduated in 1949, and then went to Charlottesville where I entered the Law School.
In the summer of 1950, war unexpectedly started in Korea and I, like many others across America left school or jobs and joined the military. This time I served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Two years later, I returned to Charlottesville to resume my law studies.
It was with some difficulty that I converted back to student life. Had it not been for the firm guidance, academic discipline, and special encouragement and commitment of an extraordinary Dean and senior law faculty, I am doubtful I could have made the transition and graduated.
This University laid an essential part of that foundation for my eventually becoming your U.S. Senator.
Ones achievements in life are largely owed to all who helped along the way. Thats why I shared with you my lifetime of gratitude for what I learned in Virginias educational institutions and from our U.S. military.
They forged my character; They forged my sense of values.
Public service is a privilege. As I look back over a long career, many generous opportunities have been given to me. As I now add up all the years of public service, it totals 45 years.
How fortunate, how blessed I have been.
By my side throughout has been a strong, devoted family.
Each step of my career I have had a very loyal, dedicated staff supporting me. Their advice and counsel has not only benefited me, but also Virginia and the nation.
A scholar I am not, but I have benefited from those who are.
A passage from Shakespeares Hamlet reads: This above all; to thine ownself be true …
Over the years I have tried my best not only to be true to myself, but also true to my fellow Virginians.
I close with a quote from a Founding Father of our nation and the Founding Father of Virginia, Mr. Jefferson:
There is a fullness of time when men should go, and not occupy too long the ground to which others have the right to advance.
Together with my family, I have decided to follow their sage, fair wisdom and yield the right to others to advance.