Not Letting the Fire Go Out
Since filling in for her dead husband in the U.S. Senate, Jean Carnahan has laid low but she's not laying still.
"I think you don't give up on things you believe in, you have to go out there and fight for them every day," Carnahan says.
Carnahan has never been one to give up. She served Missouri in the U.S. Senate, without ever holding a public office before.
"It's a lot easier to sit on the side lines and be critical. But when you're actually there casting the votes, and making the decisions, all of a sudden you realize I'm the 'they' I used to talk about," she said.
She was also in the Senate on 9-11. A scenario that posed a challenge in both her work life and personal life.
"It was one of those times when we never knew what was going to happen next," she says. "When I look back, I wonder how'd I get through all that, and you realize somehow or another ther's a strength that wells up in you at times when you need it and that was the case with me."
Carnahan served in the Senate for two years when former Sen. Jim Talent beat her in a special election. After the defeat, Carnahan moved back to St. Louis to be close to her family.
Her children have followed in their parents footsteps. Robin is the Missouri Secretary of State and son Russ is serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Their father would have been very pleased they chose to follow in his foot steps," she says.
Carnahan is now pursuing her own passion -writing. She just published her autobiography, Don't Let the Fire Go Out, whose title came from her husband's funeral almost seven years ago. That was the day Robin Carnahan shared the story that would become their family's inspiration.
"With out fail before he walked out the door in the morning to go to work he'd say don't let the fire go out. So I'm here to say, 'Dad, we promise we won't let the fire go out,' "she said during the funeral ceremony.
Jean Carnahan has also been spending time working on the political blog she created, "Fired-up Missouri". The blog is a way for Carnahan to continue to spread her husbands vision.
"Politics and public life isn't about perks, privilage, or power. It's about how you can improve the lives of other people," she says.
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