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Howard H. Baker Jr.

A World War II Navy veteran and a member of Post 136 in Oneida, Tenn., Baker received The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1989 for an illustrious Senate career spanning 18 years. Four years earlier, he received the Legion's Distinguished Service Award.

Accepting the honor, Baker said that the United States "must deal with the fact that even in those countries where the passion for democracy is strongest today, the political leadership is generally ill-prepared to meet democracy's demands for economic and civil liberty or with the revolution and expectations which have seized their citizenry .... We must remain fully prepared to defend ourselves, our interests and our values in a world that remains full of danger."

For a man who had no wish to enter politics, Baker spent much of his career in public office.

As a senator from Tennessee, Baker helped pass revenue-sharing legislation and draft the Clean Air Act in his first term. He also helped secure Tennessee's selection as site of the world's first nuclear breeder-reactor power plant.

During Watergate, he famously asked, "What did the president know, and when did he know it?"

Baker served as Senate minority leader from 1977 to 1981, and majority leader from 1981 until his retirement at the end of his third term in 1985. He entered the 1980 presidential primary, but later withdrew from the race.

President Reagan tapped Baker to serve as White House chief of staff in 1987. He later returned to Tennessee and a private law practice. From 2001 to 2005, he served as President George W. Bush's ambassador to Japan.

For more on Baker, click here (http://bakercenter.utk.edu/main/howardbaker.php).

 

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