News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Heflin, Bevill served state well in nation's capital

Howell Heflin and Tom Bevill found themselves standing in shadows when they went to Washington to represent Alabama.

They went there at a time when politics were changing and people back home began to question the value of the state being dominated by Democrats.

Mr. Heflin of Tuscumbia was replacing the icon John Sparkman in the Senate and Mr. Bevill of Jasper was following Carl Elliott, whom he once ran against, in the House.

But when the two Democrats left politics, Sen. Heflin in 1997, and Rep. Bevill in 1998, they had cast their own shadows in the shifting political climate back home.

The two public servants died a day apart this week, Rep. Bevill on Monday at age 84, and Sen. Heflin on Tuesday. He was 83.

Each left a legacy of dedicated service. Sen. Heflin, as chairman of the Ethics Committee, was the Senate's conscience. The former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court took his duties seriously. He got respect.

Rep. Bevill, meanwhile gave new meaning to bringing home federal funds. He was known as "the King of Pork," a reputation he quietly accepted with great satisfaction. He was so effective in bringing funds home that some state officials called him the state's third senator.

To say we no longer send people to Congress like this pair wouldn't be fair. But to say those who follow them still have shadows to escape is true.

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