Former secretary of defense Chuck Hagel said Thursday the Senate wasn't as “partisan” when he was first elected to serve as a GOP Senator from Nebraska because of the World War II veterans still serving at the time.
"When I got to the Senate in 1996, it was never" so partisan and personal, Hagel said during a Defense One event, Military.com reported.
"As much as any other reason, it was because of the World War II generation. We had World War II veterans, both Democrats and Republicans, who commanded respect and anchored a civility and decency in the Senate."
"They anchored a civility and decency in the Senate,” he added. “As you saw them pass from the scene, I think we became loose from our moorings."
Hagel credited lawmakers such as then-Sens. John Chafee, R-R.I., and a Marine veteran, and John Warner, R-Va., who served in both the Navy and Marines, for understanding the need to step in and defuse partisan rhetoric for the good of the American people. Chafee and Warner both also served as secretary of the Navy.
The former Army sergeant who served during the Vietnam war said he hopes "we will come back to that" type of political resolution and leadership.
"This year, you’re seeing more veterans run for office,” he said. "And by the way, I don't give a damn if they're Democrat or Republican. I want people who care about their country, who are decent, who are honest, who do the right thing. The reality is leaders are not stamped or printed or made. Leaders are developed.”
Hagel served as secretary of defense during the Obama administration from 2013-2015.
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