“For half a century, this great and good man graced the Congress of the United States. Through our birth pangs as a global power, through two terrible World Wars, through isolationism and a cold war, through the momentous first years of the atomic age, he stood like a towering rock, lending his voice and his vision to the cause of national responsibility. His voice was not always heeded, but his vision was never faulty.
And if Congress is, as I believe it is, the combined product of those who have served in it since it was founded, then Carl Vinson will surely go down in history as one of those who added more honor to that body than he took from it. He belongs with the Clays, the Websters, the Calhouns, and the Rayburns as a legislative giant. And he is a living legend in Georgia, the State he represented so ably and well.”
Editor's Note: On October 2nd, 1964, Vinson attended his last session of Congress, ending his 50-year tenure as a Georgia representative. He spent the last decades of his life residing in his hometown of Milledgeville where he continued to be an influential voice on issues of national security. In retirement, Vinson’s contributions to defense policy and his expertise were not forgotten. Both President Lyndon B. Johnson and later President Richard Nixon would often turn to Vinson for advice on issues of foreign affairs.
The excerpt above is taken from Vinson’s 85th Birthday celebration at the White House. This celebration gave President Lyndon B. Johnson and others the chance to honor Vinson’s legacy and speak to his many accomplishments while in office. Toward the end of his life, Vinson witnessed the nuclear aircraft carrier named in his honor, the USS Carl Vinson, embark on its first voyage at sea. A little over a year later, on June 1st, 1981, Vinson passed away at Baldwin County Hospital in Milledgeville.