Accessibility links


Americans Pay Respect to Senator Robert Byrd

U.S. lawmakers and members of the public are paying their respects to the longest-serving member of the U.S. Congress, West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, who died Monday.

Byrd's flag-draped casket arrived at the Capitol building early Thursday. It was carried into the building by an honor guard and was placed in the U.S. Senate chamber.

After Senator Byrd's family receives members of Congress, the chamber will be open to the public for several hours.

Senator Byrd's casket will be flown to West Virginia ahead of a memorial service Friday, to be attended by U.S. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, members of Congress and others.

His body will then will be flown back to the Washington area, where Byrd will be buried next to his wife who died in 2006 after nearly 69 years of marriage.

Senator Robert Byrd was 92 when he died peacefully at a Washington-area hospital.

Senator's Byrd's casket is resting on the Lincoln Catafalque, a stand that was constructed for the coffin of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln after he was assassinated in 1865.

It has held the caskets of many elected officials and distinguished Americans since then, including presidents, generals and soldiers.

Once a segregationist and a member of a white supremacist group (the Ku Klux Klan), Byrd evolved into an advocate for civil rights. He later apologized for his earlier positions on racial matters.

Byrd was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1952, moving to the Senate six years later. He served under 12 presidents.

President Obama cited Byrd's "courage to change over time" and for standing up for his principles. The senator was an enthusiastic supporter of Mr. Obama when he ran for president in 2008.

Byrd was an early and outspoken opponent of the invasion of Iraq, and he voiced misgivings about the U.S. military buildup in Afghanistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.