(Extensions of Remarks - June 20, 2012)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1098]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                           HON. RUSH D. HOLT

                             of new jersey

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, June 20, 2012

  Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise to draw the attention of this body to 
the passing of Nicholas Katzenbach in the past month and to recognize 
the life and career of one of the most noteworthy public servants of 
our time. Anyone who lived through the 1960's, the civil rights 
movement, and the Vietnam era in American politics will remember the 
name of Nicholas Katzenbach. However, because Nick was more interested 
in promoting liberty and justice than promoting himself and because he 
worked to help more famous people succeed--John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, 
Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton, among others--many people may not know as 
much as they should about this great American.
  U.S. Attorney General, Under Secretary of State, author of and 
political strategist for the principal legislation on civil rights, 
international envoy, decorated war hero and prisoner of war, he was 
directly involved in many of the major developments and events of our 
government during the Kennedy and Johnson years. Coming out of a 
distinguished lineage and an upbringing of privilege and 
accomplishment--Phillips Exeter, Princeton University, Balliol College 
on a Rhodes Scholarship, Yale Law School and editor of the Yale Law 
Journal--he became a forceful activist for civil rights and equality of 
opportunity for all Americans and a determined advocate for an anti-
imperialist posture with respect to other countries. Anyone who 
observed Nick's confrontation with Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett in 
1962 to force the enrollment of the first African American James 
Meredith at Ole Miss or his confrontation with Alabama Governor George 
Wallace in 1963 to force the enrollment of Vivian Malone and James Hood 
at the University of Alabama will not forget his commanding stature, 
his coolness and courage, and above all his obvious commitment to equal 
justice under law. In those situations Nick Katzenbach embodied by 
himself our national dignity and the authority of our government even 
more than the Federal Marshalls or the National Guard flanking him.
  Nick Katzenbach moved in the circles of the most powerful, where he 
became a master of our governmental mechanisms, yet he never forgot the 
purpose of power--to realize the hopes and aspirations of the people. 
He applied his impressive intellect to argue the law at the loftiest 
levels, yet never lowered his respect for the powerless whom the law is 
to protect. He recognized that the sharecropper or the Vietnamese rice 
farmer was as entitled to full respect as the banker or magnate. For 
years with unfailing determination he worked to extricate the United 
States from the Vietnam War, although unappreciated by the anti-war 
activists. He gave up his own vacations and holidays to work to defuse 
one after another domestic or international crisis or to bring 
prisoners home from foreign counties to the United States in time for 
  Despite his many accomplishments, and despite the real progress he 
brought to many areas of our society, his sense of duty and devotion to 
our country's founding democratic ideals were so great that he carried 
a lifelong disappointment that he and all the powerful, talented people 
with whom he worked still fell short of providing liberty and justice 
for all. The lingering harmful effect of race in our system of justice, 
our schools, and our economy weighed on him to the end. He lamented the 
crass and inglorious behavior that we see in so many public officials. 
I am sure Nicholas Katzenbach believed that all public officials, of 
course, should be as dignified, capable, and dedicated as he. Mr. 
Speaker, we should wish it were so.