CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin hosted a tribute to the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., inside the West Virginia Capitol rotunda on Thursday afternoon, in the shadow of Byrd's statue.
It was the second anniversary of the passing of Byrd, who served in the U.S. Congress longer than anyone else in American history.
"Sen. Byrd's legacy of compassion, loyalty and integrity," Tomblin said, "will forever be recalled by those who had the privilege of being his friend.
"If you were his constituent, you had a friend in Robert C. Byrd. He is the most historic West Virginian who dedicated his life to helping others through his years of public service.
"On this day, we remember the man who championed for great causes and helped West Virginia thrive," Tomblin said.
Several people who attended the ceremony to honor Byrd mentioned the significance of Thursday morning's 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court's upholding the Affordable Care Act legislation.
Byrd, who was quite sick at the time, traveled from his home during a raging snowstorm to cast his vote in the Senate for the health-care legislation, which passed on Christmas Eve 2009, by a 60-39 vote.
Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, said, "I think it is appropriate the health-care law was upheld today. When the Senate held that vote on Christmas Eve, he was really ill.
"'I am voting for this for my good friend Ted Kennedy,' Sen. Byrd told the Senate," Foster said.