Dingell's farewell message to America includes dig at Trump

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — On the day of his death, longtime Rep. John Dingell dictated a farewell message to America and used some of his final words to criticize President Donald Trump.

Dingell dictated the message to his wife and congressional successor Debbie Dingell Thursday in their suburban Detroit home. The Washington Post published the opinion piece on Friday.

"One of the advantages to knowing that your demise is imminent, and that reports of it will not be greatly exaggerated, is that you have a few moments to compose some parting thoughts," Dingell said Thursday. "In our modern political age, the presidential bully pulpit seems dedicated to sowing division and denigrating, often in the most irrelevant and infantile personal terms, the political opposition."

Dingell, who died Thursday at age 92, didn't mention Trump by name in the article.

Dingell represented parts of southeast Michigan for nearly 60 years before retiring in 2014 as the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history.

Rep. John Dingell through the years
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Rep. John Dingell through the years
UNITED STATES - MARCH 31: PATIENTS BILL OF RIGHTS--John D. Dingell,D-Mich., during House and Senate Democrats press conference to introduce the managed care bill. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 01: Rep. John Dingell at International Investors Conference. (Photo by Karl Schumacher/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
3/15/1983- Washington, DC: Closeup at press conference of Congressman John Dingell.
FILE - In this June 2, 1977 file photo, President Jimmy Carter hosts a breakfast in the Family Dining Room of the White House in Washington for House Subcommittee members on Energy and Power. From left are Rep. John M. Murphy (D-N.Y.), Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), President Carter, Rep. Harley Staggers (D-W Va.), Rep. Andrew Maguire (D-N.J.), and Rep. Timothy Wirth (D-Colo.). Fifty seven years ago, Rep. John Dingell, who this week becomes the longest serving member of Congress in history, nearly began his career in tears on the floor of the House. Members were delivering tributes to his father, John Dingell Sr., who had died recently. (AP Photo/Charles Harrity, File)
Congressman John Dingell in camouflage during geese hunting expedition. (Photo by Kenneth Garrett/Woodfin Camp/Woodfin Camp/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Washington, DC: President Reagan reaches for a pen to sign legislation, January 6, to bail out the farm credit system, providing the first federal aid to the nation's largest agriculture lender since the Great Depression. Behind Reagan, pushing in his chair for him are, from left, Senator Patrick Leahy (Democrat - Vermont); Representative John Dingell (Democrat - Michigan); and Representative James Jeffords (Republican - Vermont.)
Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., comments on President Jimmy Carter during an interview in his Capitol Hill office on June 12, 1979. Carter arrived in Washington as an outsider and remains an outsider to Washington politics. Dingell is nevertheless a supporter of the president. (AP Photo/John Duricka)
House Energy Comm. Chmn. Rep. John Dingell (Dem-MI) in his Capitol Hill office. (Photo by Terry Ashe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 28: PROFILE:John D. Dingell,D-Mich.,in his office at Rayburn House Office Building. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
Rep. John David Dingell, D-Mich., House of Representatives Member, having a front row seat during panel discussion on the first day of the Democratic Party retreat. March 8, 1991 (Photo by Maureen Keating/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 11: TELELCOMMUNICATIONS PROVISIONS--During his opening statement, ranking member John Dingell, D-Mich., right, jokes with Chairman Tom Bliley, R-Va., during full Commerce Committee markup of FY98 budget provision dealing with spectrum sales. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., is in foreground. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 19: PATIENTS' RIGHTS--John D. Dingell, D-Mich., Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., middle, and Greg Ganske, R-Iowa, during a news conference on the Senate patients' rights bill. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 06: Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., House Energy and Commerce ranking Democrat John D. Dingell, D-Mich., and House Ways and Means ranking Democrat Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., during a news conference on the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, which was created by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2003 and is now being implemented. Seniors have until May 15 to sign up for a Medicare prescription drug plan without being charged a penalty. Democrats say the deadline should be extended to allow seniors, as Capps put it, to 'navigate this complicated maze of rules and regulations' fraught with 'mixed messages and mass confusion.' Dingell was a member of the House in 1965 when Congress launched the Medicare health care program for the elderly and disabled. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (L)(D-CA) is given a box of paczki, a traditional pastry commonly eaten on Fat Tuesday, from the Chene Modern Bakery in Detroit from Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (R)(D-MI) on Feburary 5, 2007 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO / TIM SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 28: Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., and his wife Debbie Dingell, attend the Susan G. Komen for the Cure's Honoring the Promise benefit at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on October 28, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - JULY 29: Former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., wields the gavel he used when he presided over the vote to pass Medicare in 1965 during the House Democrats' event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On Friday, Trump ordered flags at the White House and other federal facilities lowered to half-staff in Dingell's memory. The president also used Twitter to extend sympathies to Debbie Dingell and other family members.

"Longest serving Congressman in country's history which, if people understand politics, means he was very smart," Trump tweeted. "A great reputation and highly respected man."

Dingell's opinion article was similar to a letter penned by former Arizona Sen. John McCain before his death in August from brain cancer.

In McCain's letter, the late Arizona Republican appeared to repudiate Trump's politics one last time, saying, "We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe."

Much of Dingell's letter to the Post focused on the country and improvements made over the decades to Medicare, the environment, the Great Lakes and efforts to end racial discrimination.

"All of these challenges were addressed by Congress," Dingell said. "Maybe not as fast as we wanted, or as perfectly as hoped. The work is certainly not finished. But we've made progress — and in every case, from the passage of Medicare through the passage of civil rights, we did it with the support of Democrats and Republicans who considered themselves first and foremost to be Americans."

He concluded by saying "as I prepare to leave this all behind, I now leave you in control of the greatest nation of mankind and pray God gives you the wisdom to understand the responsibility you hold in your hands. May God bless you all, and may God bless America."

Trump's proclamation applies to flags at the White House, other public buildings and grounds, U.S. military posts and naval stations, and on all federal naval vessels. They'll be lowered until sunset Saturday.

Flags at U.S. embassies and other facilities overseas also are ordered to half-staff. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also ordered flags on state property lowered.

A public visitation will be held Monday at Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn. A funeral will be held at a local church Tuesday.

Following those services, a casket carrying Dingell's body will be driven past the Capitol in Washington. The public is invited to watch from the east lawn of the Capitol.

A second funeral Mass will be held Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington. The public is invited.

Dingell will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery, said his wife Debbie Dingell, who succeeded him in the Michigan congressional seat.

Tributes poured in following Dingell's death, including from former U.S. presidents, colleagues and some of his more than 250,000 Twitter followers.


See AP's complete coverage of John Dingell here: https://apnews.com/JohnDingell

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