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Washington — Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell shared a final message for America in a commentary he dictated to his wife, current U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, on the day that he died. 

The op-ed, titled "My last words for America," was published Friday by the Washington Post, less than 24 hours after Dingell died at 92. 

The Dearborn Democrat, who served in Congress from 1955 to 2015, implored Americans to think about the challenges that were tackled by Congress during his 59-year career, citing landmark legislation that he helped craft such as Medicare, the Civil Rights Act and environmental laws that were intended to boost the quality of water in the Great Lakes. 

"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," he wrote. 

"The work is certainly not finished," Dingell continued. "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.

Dingell, famous for his often sarcastic tweets and a frequent critic of one prominent Twitter user, President Donald Trump, decried the use of the social media platform as a tool for politicians to attack each other in increasingly personal terms. 

"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," he wrote. "And much as I have found Twitter to be a useful means of expression, some occasions merit more than 280 characters." 

Dingell wrote that he was "immensely proud, and eternally grateful, for having had the opportunity" to play a part in landmark legislation during his service in Congress.

"It’s simply not possible for me to adequately repay the love that my friends, neighbors and family have given me and shown me during my public service and retirement," he said. 

He also thanked his wife, who succeeded him in Congress in 2015. 

"I would be remiss in not acknowledging the forgiveness and sweetness of the woman who has essentially supported me for almost 40 years: my wife, Deborah," he wrote. "And it is a source of great satisfaction to know that she is among the largest group of women to have ever served in the Congress (as she busily recruits more)." 

Dingell closed with a call for Americans to appreciate the importance of public service. 

"I never forgot the people who gave me the privilege of representing them," he wrote. "It was a lesson learned at home from my father and mother, and one I have tried to impart to the people I’ve served with and employed over the years.

"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," he concluded.

klaing@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8735

Twitter: @Keith_Laing

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