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Former Congressman Celebrates 99th Birthday

At 99 years old, Ken Hechler is the oldest living former member of the United States Congress.

ROMNEY, Wv.— At 99 years old, Ken Hechler is the oldest living former member of the United States Congress.

His friends and family gathered in Romney, West Virginia to celebrate his birthday and his many accomplishments.

"The most memorable thing I did was being a speechwriter for a great president of the United States named Harry Truman," said Hechler.

Hechler served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 18 years and was West Virginia’s Secretary of State for 16 years. He was also the only member of Congress to march with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma.

"I was very fortunate to be the only member of Congress on that Selma march, which actually had a tremendous effect in turning public opinion around," said Hechler.

One of Hechler's most notable achievements was his role in the creation of the Coal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1969.

"He's a real humanist,” said Hechler’s biographer Carter Seaton. “I mean he's an inspiration to everybody because his memory is prodigious. We have sat and talked for hours and hours and he's never run out of stories."

Hechler, a former professor, environmental activist, and historian who interrogated top Nazi officials during World War II, says he is looking forward to turning 100 next year.

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