Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
"When I first came to the Senate in 1986, one of the people who was most welcoming to me was Senator Robert Byrd. I reached out to him. I told him I not only wanted to be a fighter - I wanted to be an effective player. I wanted to be sure there was money in the federal checkbook for my state and the national priorities that would help ordinary families. Robert Byrd said, 'You should come on my Appropriations Committee.'
"Thanks to his generosity and his belief in me, I was the first woman, and one of the first freshman members of the Senate, to go on the Appropriations Committee. He changed my life. He helped me change the life of the United States Senate and my state. I will never forget him for that."
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
"When I arrived in the Senate, I knew I had so much to learn. One of the first things I did was go to Senator Byrd seeking his advice and guidance. His experience, insight and knowledge were such a valuable resource for me and the other new senators.
"After New York was attacked on Sept. 11, Senator Byrd generously offered his help, telling me I could consider him the third senator from New York. I will never forget what he said and did, and neither will the people of New York.
"Given his enduring devotion to principle and the people of West Virginia, I am not surprised that he is again West Virginian of the Year. Senator Byrd's dedication to the integrity of this institution, the people of West Virginia and the country he loves are worthy of our greatest respect and admiration. We all watched as he recently stood in the Senate Chamber and in a short period of time quoted Abraham Lincoln, a Roman historian, James Madison and the apostle Paul.
"All of America was witness to a great history lesson, as Senator Byrd explained what the Constitution meant and the way our system of government is supposed to work. Everyone knows that Senator Byrd carries a copy of the Constitution with him. He keeps it in his jacket pocket right next to his heart, where the people of West Virginia reside."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
"Senator Byrd's work to bring in federal highway dollars and funds for higher education facilities, combined with his efforts to bring the FBI Center and other high-tech federal facilities to West Virginia, have really helped reshape our state. Those appropriations were all hard-won and done with a vision for the future of West Virginia."Compiled by Paul J. Nyden