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by Terry Werner

I sat down to prepare for the Democratic forum at which I was to speak. This was the day after Governor Morrison's death and I found it difficult not to write about him. So I decided to at least begin my talk paying tribute to a great man. The forum was subsequently cancelled because of the Governor's memorial service. I decided I would submit my thoughts from that day to you, my constituents.

I became a part of Frank Morrison's world only in the past three years. Governor Morrison had a way of making people feel a special friendship with him. I did not know Frank Morrison as well as many, but in those three years, I got to know him personally, and I will miss him. I had the honor of sharing the stage with him on three or four different occasions. Each time he spoke without notes and with in-depth knowledge of current events. He did not dwell on a past life, but built upon it. Each time he spoke from the heart and with passion. He was truly a great Democrat, a great Nebraskan and a great person.

Frank Morrison was a liberal; he was a progressive and he was true to himself. He is my inspiration and my hero. Of all the rewards that come with being a public servant, having the opportunity to know Frank Morrison has to rank highest among them.

I remember going to a Downtown Rotary Club meeting during my campaign. It just so happened that Governor Morrison was sitting at the table next to me. I turned around, gave him a brochure and began to tell him that I was running for City Council. Before I could finish, he said, in not too soft a voice, "I know who you are. I'll vote for you." This was at a time when very few even had the City Council race on their radar screen.

The speaker that day was a General from the Strategic Air Command. He was talking about nuclear weapons strategies. After the speech and as we were leaving I could hear Frank saying, again in not too soft a voice, "has the whole country gone insane".

In the winter of 2001 a recall petition was initiated against me. Governor Morrison called me at home and asked me to come to his apartment. On the one hand I was thrilled at the opportunity and on the other hand I was apprehensive as to what he really wanted. I wondered if maybe he was going to tell me to be more cautious about speaking out against the war. I was barely in the door when he said, (95 year old Frank Morrison) "I saw some old biddy on TV last night wanting to recall you!" I realized that he had made the effort just to provide encouragement and comfort to me. We then spent the following two hours in his study talking about his life experiences. It was a fascinating afternoon, one that I will cherish the rest of my life.

In the last three years Frank Morrison took time to come down to the City Council Chambers to testify on my moratorium resolution on the death penalty. He attended press conferences in the capital to oppose the death penalty. He spoke at the Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty conference. He spoke at the rally opposing going to war in Iraq and, I am sure, many other events as well. In his late 90's, Frank Morrison was more of an activist then most people are in their entire life.

I will simply end with two quotes, each from a great McCook politician, both capture the spirit of Frank Morrison. The first is from George W. Norris in his book "Fighting Liberal":

"Liberalism will not die. It is as indispensable to life as the pure air all around about. It is deathless -it marches forward- and it will continue to march along after those who have carried its standards in past struggles are gone from this earth. This is my faith in America".

The second is from Governor Frank Morrison's book "My Journey Through the Twentieth Century". In the dedication he writes:

"To the indomitable human spirit which contains within its soul the capacity to elevate the quality of human life on this planet to heights heretofore unknown and ever more worthy of immortality..."
"To that seed that resides within the human heart to pursue perfection".

Governor Morrison, you are that seed within me. Thank you!

Terry Werner was elected to an at-large seat on the City Council in 2001.

Council Comments