Ex-Sen. Lugar honored at Indianapolis ceremony

In a Jan. 16, 2008 file photo, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, points during a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine. Lugar, a Republican foreign policy sage known for leading efforts to help the former Soviet states dismantle and secure much of their nuclear arsenal, died Sunday at the Inova Fairfax Heart and Vascular Institute in Virginia. He was 87.

It's possible for elected government leaders to remain civil and cordial while also being dogged advocates for ideals and constituencies.

Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar proved this statement with great vigor.

In the wake of his Saturday death, we all must remind our leaders of his example and urge them to emulate it.

Over the weekend, divisive and often bitter partisanship seemed to evaporate, at least for a time, as news traveled that one of Indiana's greatest statesmen had died at the age of 87.

The bipartisan accolades that flowed in for Lugar's career didn't come by accident.

The two-term mayor of Indianapolis and six-term U.S. senator made a career out of pushing for bipartisan cooperation. Reaching across the aisle was the hallmark of his sweeping success from everything to denuclearization of former Soviet countries to federal policies that benefited the Hoosier state directly.

Today, it's no wonder the Lugar Center, a political and government think-tank named for him, ranks and rates the bipartisanship, or lack thereof, of congressional members.

Carrying on Lugar's important tradition, U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, was ranked last month by the center as being among the senators most willing to work across party lines to craft new laws during the first two years of the Trump administration.

This came even though Young's political party controlled both chambers of Congress.

Lugar set the tone for this style of political cooperation, and we can only hope it continues to reverberate through a national government landscape often defined by vitriol and partisan jabbing.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, dubbed Lugar "one of our best, ever" when speaking of the leader Saturday following Lugar's death.

On the same day, two-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Indiana speaker of the House, John Gregg, recalled inviting Lugar to address the House Democrats in 1999.

Lugar happily put politics aside and obliged.

"Sen. Lugar arrived at my office and spoke with our leaders for a few minutes before all of the House Democrats gathered for a once-in-a-lifetime meeting with America's expert on foreign policy," Gregg recalled. "It was one of the highlights of my legislative and public service career."

As Gregg observed, Lugar made it his mission to make our country and the world safer, reducing the threat of nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union by championing the Nunn-Lugar Act in Congress.

And on the domestic stage, he reminded us that government leaders could accomplish their political aspirations while being good, civil and decent human beings.

We'll all miss this consummate diplomat. None of us should forget his lesson.

He showed us all how to be better people.


Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.