State Sen. Ken Yager was surprised by a brief ceremony on Tuesday morning to present him with a print of a painting of Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr.
"That's just beautiful," Yager remarked to himself when he first saw the painting after he entered Scott County General Sessions Judge Jamie Cotton's courtroom.
Cotton called the presentation a chance to honor "two of the most important and outstanding representatives in the history of Scott County."
Baker served as a US Senator from 1967-1985 and he eventually became the White House Chief of Staff under Ronald Reagan. He also served as the ambassador to Japan from 2001-2005. Baker died in June 2014.
Cotton said there were similarities between Yager and Baker--both were willing to work with the opposite party to reach a compromise for the people. The timing of the presentation in contrast to politics at a national level is no coincidence, Cotton said.
"In a time when divisive, identify politics has emerged, it was an opportunity to honor two men who knew how to reach across the divide of differences and work with their colleagues in a spirit of compromise for the benefit of their constituents," Cotton said.
Yager first met Baker in 1966 as a college student at UT Martin and Baker was in the midst of his first senate campaign. He called Baker's campaign one of his first forays into politics.
The photo is one of just four recreations of the original painting that hangs outside the Senate Chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C, and it depicts Baker in the Senate Chamber. The curator of the senate and longtime Baker Personal Assistant Fred Marcum were instrumental in getting permission to recreate the painting, Cotton explained.
"I just can't tell you how flattered I am," Yager said during brief remarks after Cotton made the presentation. "Next week it will be hung prominently in our office (in Nashville.)