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John Dingell, the man and the leader, celebrated at funeral in Washington D.C.

John Dingell
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
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Flickr

Past and present political leaders from both sides of the aisle gathered today at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. for the funeral mass of former U.S. Representative John Dingell.

The mass, which was aired on WDIV Local 4, followed one that took place in Dearborn earlier this week.

Dingell died on February 7 at the age of 92.

He was the longest serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented parts of suburban Detroit from 1955 to 2015.

Former President Bill Clinton, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, former House Speaker John Boehner, Democratic Representative John Lewis, and Republican Representative Fred Upton all spoke at Thursday's funeral.

The speakers praised him for his devoted service to his state and to his country.

"He possessed a real kindness and wisdom," said Upton. "And he shared it when he thought that it could make a difference. Bipartisanship - he wrote the book. He really did. He nudged us all to work together."

Upton affectionately referred to Dingell as "Mr. Michigan."

He said on the day before Dingell died, Dingell pushed House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to drink a Vernor's ice cream float.

Former President Clinton praised Dingell as bold, principled, and patriotic with an extraordinary record of legislative accomplishments.

John Dingell, 29, is sworn in as a member of Congress in 1955 by House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas
Credit John Dingell website
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John Dingell, 29, is sworn in as a member of Congress in 1955 by House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas.

Clinton said Dingell endangered his seat in Congress by voting for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"In his first term in Congress in 1956, he sponsored an anti-lynching bill, a fair housing bill, and a bill to eliminate the poll tax," said Clinton.

"His Polish immigrant, Catholic heritage, his study of social justice with the Jesuits up the street, did not permit him to pull up the ladder of opportunity just because he had climbed it," Clinton said.

"He loved politics. But he also understood that not everyone would agree with him, and if you believed in the Constitution of the United States, that that was a good thing," Clinton said. "It would give us a better, stronger country as long as we continued to see each other, first, as people."

Dingell  is survived by his wife, U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, who holds the same Congressional seat he did.

Dingell will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery Friday morning.

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