Emotional colleagues remember Frank Lautenberg, US Senate’s last WWII vet

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Bob Menendez says “Even though I knew senator Lautenberg was ill I’m still taken back by his passing because I thought having seen him two weeks ago that he had a lot more time.”

An emotional Senator Bob Menendez held back tears as he remembered fondly on a man he calls a friend, colleague and ally, one of the last of the members of the “Great Generation” of World War II Veterans serving in the United States Senate.

89 year old Frank Lautenberg passed away early Monday morning at New York Presbyterian – Weill Cornell from complications stemming from viral pneumonia.

While his health had been ailing for several months, his death was sudden and came as a shock for the many who knew him.

 Senator Bob Menendez – (D) New Jersey also had this to say “He was tenacious in the causes that he believed in on behalf of the people of New Jersey and the nation 204 and even when he had setbacks he came back.”

Born to immigrant parents, Senator Lautenberg grew up poor in Paterson, New Jersey. He enlisted in the military at 18, serving in Europe during World War II. He returned home to graduate from Columbia University and eventually founded the successful ADP: Automatic Data Processing, a firm specializing in payroll services. It wasn’t until later in life at 58 years old, Lautenberg entered the political field.

Governor Chris Christie – (R) New Jersey gave this statement “It’s no mystery that Senator Lautenberg and I didn’t always agree.”

Touted as holding the record for the most number of votes cast by a New Jersey Senator, Lautenberg successfully pushed through and even authored several key pieces of legislation. Such as the law that banned smoking on airplanes; a law preventing domestic abusers from possessing guns; and even landmark national drunk driving laws.

Most recently Lautenberg was among those who pushed for stricter gun regulations… closing loopholes to background checks and banning the sale of high capacity magazines.

Today, as Senator Menendez was just minutes away from catching a train back to the nation’s capital, he remembered Lautenberg as a huge advocate for AMTRAK; the Secaucus Junction station is even named after him.

Senator Bob Menendez – (D) New Jersey says “He is and was Mr. Transportation. As I ride Amtrak back today to Washington, I’ll be thinking all the way of Frank Lautenberg. If you think of mass transit as a whole you’ll be thinking about Frank Lautenberg.”