LAS VEGAS – President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama and other prominent Democrats will pay tribute to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Saturday at a memorial service in Nevada, his home state.
Reid, the Senate’s Lion, was killed in a fight with pancreatic carcinoma.
Biden,who served alongside Reid in the upper chamber for 22 years and later worked with him as vice president, is slated to deliver remarks at the service.
“During the two decades we served together in the United States Senate, and the eight years we worked together while I served as vice president, Harry met the marker for what I’ve always believed is the most important thing by which you can measure a person – their action and their word,” Biden said in a statement following Reid’s passing.
Reid is expected to give the eulogy. They worked closely together in passing Obama’s health care bill, The Affordable Care Act (in 2010), while Reid was majority leader. Reid, who was Nevada’s longest-serving senator, presided over Nevada’s upper chamber from 2007 through 2015.
“We are honored to have such a distinguished group paying tribute to Harry’s life and accomplishments,” Landra Reid, the late senator’s wife, said in a statement. “These are not only some of the most consequential leaders of our time – they are also some of Harry’s best friends.”
After the memorial, Reid will be taken to Washington and laid in state there on January 12.
‘Tough-as-nails strong’:Harry Reid, a former U.S. senator after his passing, received many tributes.
More: At 82, Former US Senator Harry Reid, Nevada’s Democratic Majority Leader, has died.
Biden: ‘We lost a giant American’
Joe Biden stated that Reid will be remembered for his outstanding leadership as a Senate majority leader. Biden praised Reid’s listening ability, good manner and record in securing Democratic policy victories under his leadership.
“People in Nevada, you lost a beloved son but his spirit’s always going to burn as bright as the desert sun,” Biden said. “To the nation – we lost a giant American, plain spoken, honorable, decent, brave, unyielding man. This is his legacy.
“Call on each of us to be our best, to speak truth from the heart, to take up the remains of Harry Reid’s good fight for the America we all love. What a gift.”
Biden said Reid’s story shows “there’s nothing ordinary about America,” comparing Reid’s humble upbringing in Nevada to Biden’s own in Delaware. “Ordinary Americans can do anything given half a chance. We the people – pretty damn extraordinary.”
Biden, a former Senate colleague of Reid, said you “wanted Harry in your corner,” crediting his leadership with pushing through some of the Obama administration’s greatest achievements: helping rein in Wall Street, preserve Social Security during the George W. Bush years and pass environmental protections for Nevada.
“The thing about Harry – he never gave up,” Biden said. “Let there be no doubt. Harry Reid will be considered one of the greatest Senate Majority leaders in United States history.”
Biden stated that Reid’s approach to politics should be the most important thing about Reid.
“Like every great leader, he led the Democratic Caucus not just by speaking, but by listening,” Biden said. “For Harry, it wasn’t about power for the sake of power. It was all about having the ability to use power for good. That’s why he wanted her to in your corner.”
The service was capped by Brandon Flowers of The Killers singing “Home Means Nevada,” the state’s anthem.
– Joey Garrison
Obama on Reid: ‘He always chose progress’
Former President Barack Obama remembered Reid as a “man of old-school virtues” – a rare politician who lacked pretentiousness, operated with “abiding loyalty” and a pragmatist who “knew how to get things done.”
“In a battle between perfection and progress, he always chose progress,” Obama said in eulogizing Reid. “He didn’t shy away from bare-knuckle politics, but what is true is that I never heard Harry speak of politics as if it was some unbending battle between good and evil.”
While Reid was Senate majority leader, Obama served as President. Reid said that Reid believed Obama was the best African-American President.
“You wanted Harry in the foxhole with you,” Obama said, adding that Reid’s willingness to stick by his side even amid dipping poll numbers – “when some Democrats thought it might be prudent to maintain a healthy distance from me” – was a debt he couldn’t repay.
Although Reid was best known as a fighter, Obama said Reid was a pragmatist at time when many Americans apply “purity tests to our politicians.”
“He didn’t believe in highfalutin theories or rigid ideologies. He thought most people make decisions based on their life experience, based on immediate needs and their families.”
Obama claimed that without Reid, he would have not been able the pass federal stimulus bills after the Great Recession and Wall Street reform, or the Affordable Health Act.
“The whole point of wielding power was to actually get things done on behalf of those you represent,” Obama said of Reid’s political philosophy. “During his time as leader that is exactly what he did. He got things done.”
– Joey Garrison
‘He was beloved,’ Pelosi says of Reid’s ‘most enduring legacy’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remembered Reid’s modesty, dry sense of humor and as a rare politician beloved by members of both political parties.
“For all his great legislative achievements, his most enduring public legacy will be that he was beloved,” Pelosi said. “A word not often used to describe political leaders.”
She stated that Reid made it a point to ensure his Nevada home was served.
“He did everything he could to ensure that his voices were heard, either protecting the state’s natural environment or its political environment, especially its coveted role in the presidential selection process,” Pelosi said.
She also joked about Reid’s bluntness, saying she probably got hung up on the phone by him more than anyone else in Washington.
“Two or three times a day for 12 years,” Pelosi said, drawing laughter. “That is official working days – sometimes Saturday and Sunday.”
After Pelosi spoke, musical artist Carole King performed “In the Name of Love.”
– Joey Garrison
Schumer: Reid was ‘tough as nails’ but compassionate
Senate Majority Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who considered Reid a mentor in the Senate, said “beneath Harry’s soft-spoken nature was a truly honest and original character.”
“He was one of a kind,” Schumer said. “All of us being here is proof of the wide and deep impact that Harry had.”
“Harry, in short, is one of the most incredible individuals I’ve ever met, the sort of person you come across only a handful of times in your entire life. He was tough as nails, a fighter to his core, but also one of the most compassionate individuals, you could ever imagine.”
Schumer claimed that Reid became his friend in 1999 after he was elected to the Senate. He laughed about Reid telling him that he needed to “buy some better shoes” to earn leadership.
“He cared about you with every fiber. Sometimes you can even say cared a little too much.”
He recalled in 2006, when Sen. Claire McCaskill’s victory in Missouri gave Democrats control of the Senate. Schumer and Reid watched the election returns together.
“I kid you not, Harry went up to the TV screen and smacked his lips on hers,” Schumer said, laughing. “His lips remain attached on the TV for a full 10 seconds.”
– Joey Garrison
Reid brought ‘devotion and steadfastness’ to everything, son says
Leif Reid, one of Harry Reid’s five children who spoke at the service, said the best way to describe Reid is “devotion and steadfastness in everything he did.”
“People know his story. He lived the American dream from Searchlight to Washington,” he said.
Leif Reid added: “But the reality was he was a man who simply chose to do his best every day, to do his duty, to take care of his stewardship. It was part of his work to become our father. It was also my responsibility to find my mother her soulmate. Part of that work was to be your senator.”
– Joey Garrison
‘Proud of the name Harry Reid’
Josh Reid, another of Reid’s five children, said his father always told his kids how much he loved them.
“He would often tell me when I had my own kids that you can never tell your family that you love them too much,” Josh Reid said.
Josh Reid said his son’s wife gave birth to a child on Friday. They chose Harry Reid as their name.
“I hope as the years go by, that little boy will look at his grandfather in the same way I looked at my dad. I’m proud of the name Harry Reid.”
Brandon Flowers of the rock band The Killers then performed the song “Be Still.”
Leif Reid, one of Reid’s sons, said it was his father’s final song request before his death.
– Joey Garrison
More:Senator Harry Reid, a Westerner with Western grit left a lasting impression on Nevada.
‘When he was home, he was just Poppy’
Lana Reid Barringer, Reid’s daughter, remembered her father as a family man who always found time for his children and grandchildren no matter what was going on in Washington.
“He was pulled in so many different directions, but when he was home, he was just Poppy. He was not interested in talking about his work. He wanted to talk about us,” she said.
Reid Barringer stated that her faither was a great laugher, no matter what the situation. He would often take his kids to get ice cream and let them choose the flavors. She also recalled the trip he made to see The Osmonds.
About 20 years ago, Reid and his wife, Landra Gould Reid, temporarily moved into Lana’s home as they were downsizing houses. The senator and his wife were forced to share his children’s old trundle bed.
“Before his security detail picked him up to take him to the Capitol, I bet he was the only senator who had to navigate Legos and PlayMobil,” Reid Barringer said.
She concluded: “Nobody loved me the way my dad loved me. He was a great father, who loved me unselfishly and made sure that my mother, me, and my brothers were always his priorities. His presence will always be missed. I will cherish him always. And I’m grateful that families are forever.”
– Joey Garrison
Before the service, friends, protesters and supporters gathered
Sen. Harry Reid’s memorial service drew presidents Joe Biden and Barack Obama, those who knew the former Senate majority leader and a smattering of Trump supporters who hate Democrats and vaccine mandates.
Hannah Brown (82), of Las Vegas, came to honor the man with whom she shared kindergarten and who has remained her lifelong friend.
“I grew up with him and worked with his campaigns many, many times,” she said with tears in her eyes. “What people don’t know is if he was your friend, he was your friend.”
Brown was a civil-rights activist who recalled Reid’s speech at October’s dedication of the elementary school she had renamed.
“He called me his forever friend,” she said as she showed a reporter a picture of Reid embracing her.
Some were even less thrilled about the presence of Democratic luminaries within their community.
Around a dozen protestors gathered at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts and waved banners that supported former President Donald Trump. Some shouted profane messages about the president, while others referred to Reid in a way that was not related.
Lorena Cardenas (42), from Las Vegas, was the only one willing to talk about their anger.
“Democrats have suppressed freedom,” she said. Cardenas blamed Biden for rushing vaccines for children that she thinks — contrary to medical experts — will harm their health.
“This is about Democrats more broadly but Harry Reid facilitated Biden’s win so that was a slap to our face,” she said.
– Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic
‘Ultimate champion of the little guy’
Pallbearers brought Reid’s casket, draped in an American flag, to the front of the room as the service got underway.
“We are here today to give gratitude for the man from Searchlight, Nevada. Shaped by a humble upbringing, Harry Reid rose to the become the ultimate champion of the little guy,” said Marcus Faust, a friend of Reid, kicking off the services.
The speakers include President Joe Biden (previous President Barack Obama), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Carole King will perform the song, “In the name of Love.”
– Joey Garrison
Biden mourners are at the service
A string trio played the hymn “Lord of the Dance” followed by “Amazing Grace” as friends and family arrived for services of the late former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., at the Smith Center in Las Vegas.
The strings played beneath a screen that displayed tweets paying tribute to Reid as a masked crowd began to fill into the seats.
At 1:45 PM EST, President Joe Biden arrived via motorcade. Service are set to commence at 2 p.m.
– Joey Garrison
Contributing to the Associated Press