Nation pays respect to Charlie Wilson

By Lane Luckie - bio | email
Photojournalist: Brad Hill | email

ARLINGTON, VA (KTRE) - Former congressman Charlie Wilson spent more than two decades representing East Texas on Capitol Hill.  Tuesday, he was laid to rest within an earshot of his old congressional apartment.

Despite the raw cold, more than a hundred mourners huddled in Section 54 of Arlington National Cemetery, where Wilson was buried.

The former naval officer received military honors, including a ceremonial honor guard, a rifle firing party and bugler.

Some say he singlehandedly changed the course of history; the architect of a plan to end the Cold War by defeating the Soviets.

Others don't give Charlie Wilson as much credit, instead remembering the man who loved a good time.

Politics aside, history will remember a him as a true patriot.

The larger than life East Texan leaves an important role unfilled.

"Charlie took his job seriously, took his service to his country seriously, but didn't take himself too seriously," said Pete Rose, a contemporary of Wilson. "He is a dying breed in congress. I wish we had more Charlie Wilsons."

Among the mourners: decorated military leaders, political allies, life-long friends, and even complete strangers.

Rebecca Brune never knew Charlie Wilson, but believed in who he was.

"I thought he was a fabulous human being, with a marvelous life." Brune said. "I think the people here gave testament to that, because they all knew and loved Charlie- everyone did."

It was a modest service, by Arlington standards, but not without a military honor guard paying tribute to the Navy veteran. Three rifle volleys, followed by the haunting, yet strangely comforting sound of taps, echoed by a lone bugler.

"A flock of geese flew over in a perfect V, and the V came right over where Charlie was being laid to rest," Congressman Louie Gohmert said. "It was in perfect formation. It was rather amazing.

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