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Sen. Richard B. Russell

For years of supporting The American Legion, both as a Legionnaire and as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Russell received the Distinguished Service Medal posthumously in 1971.

"His lifetime of public service was dedicated to the preservation of our American heritage, of our agricultural resources, and of the welfare of millions of schoolchildren," National Commander Alfred P. Chamie said. "His abiding concern ... was our nation's military preparedness, which has always been a major concern of The American Legion."

Russell had a long career of public service, from the Naval Reserve in 1918 and 1919 to a 38 years in the Senate. In 1921, the Southern Democrat was elected to the Georgia House, where he served for 10 years. He became governor in 1931, serving only about 18 months before moving to the Senate in 1933.

He twice served as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, from 1951 to 1953 and again from 1955 to 1969. From 1969 to 1971, Russell was chairman of the Appropriations Committee and president pro tem of the Senate. During He was a counselor to six presidents.

Russell founded and led the conservative coalition that dominated Congress from 1937 to 1963. Upon his death in 1971, at 73, he was the longest-serving senator. One of the Senate office buildings bears his name.

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