Cheryl Diaz Meyer, For the Deseret News
Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the longest-serving Republican senator in the United States, will be retiring at the end of the year. He makes his way to his Senate Hideaway office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Monday, October 22, 2018. Hatch said he was proud to inherit the office from the late Senator Ted Kennedy, a place where he fondly remembers sharing many debates with Kennedy.

As many Utahns know, I came up during the Great Depression, living in a ramshackle house built with recycled lumber from the local scrapyard. My parents gave us everything they had, but we still had next to nothing.

Only in a nation like ours could someone like me — the scrappy son of a simple steelworker — grow up to become a United States senator. This country gave me the opportunity to escape the poverty of my youth. And so, in return, I have made it my life’s mission to expand opportunity for others.

Looking back on more than four decades of public service, I can confidently say that I have accomplished that goal. Utahns know that I have always been a fighter, fighting specifically for those who could not fight for themselves. But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time has come.

Today will be my last day in the United States Senate. It’s impossible to distill in just a few words my feelings in this moment. But one is of overwhelming appreciation to the people of Utah. So let my final words as your senator be words of gratitude: Thank you, Utah. Thank you for putting your trust in me over these 42 years. And thank you for the opportunity to serve.

Over the last several weeks, I have reflected at length on my service to our state. Much has changed over the course of my Senate tenure, but one thing has remained constant throughout: my unyielding commitment to give a voice to all Utahns and ensure that your views are being represented here in Congress. My foremost duty has always been to work for the betterment of the Beehive State. That’s why, when you first sent me to Washington so many years ago, I determined to make casework the cornerstone of my public service.

I represent over 3 million people in the United States Senate, but my most fulfilling work has always been on behalf of individual Utahns. Ensuring justice for Josh Holt and bringing him home to his family is but one example among thousands more. Indeed, the most meaningful experiences of my life have been meeting with Utahns one on one to help them resolve their individual concerns.

These unique constituent cases include securing dozens of visas for clergy, service volunteers and missionaries across multiple religious organizations; improving language-immersion programs in our public schools; helping refugee Boy Scouts in their efforts to improve Utah’s communities; and working with families of veterans to ensure that our heroes get the recognition they deserve.

With help from the good people of Utah, we have changed not only our state but our nation for the better. Just look at what we have achieved in the last two years alone. We have overseen some of the most consequential judicial confirmations of the last decade, in addition to passing a number of historic bills. Each legislative victory won was a joint effort — drafted by me under constant guidance from people like you. In that sense, the legacy I leave behind is not mine but ours. And our accomplishments are almost too many to count.

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With your help, I have participated in the confirmation of over half of all federal judges who have ever served, including every current member of the United States Supreme Court. I have likewise passed more bills into law than any legislator alive today, including some of the most significant reforms of modern times. These include the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Hatch-Waxman Act, just to name a few.

Thank you, sincerely, for your unwavering support throughout. Because without you, none of this would have been possible.

So let me conclude by saying, again, how profoundly grateful I am to the people of Utah. To serve you here in the Senate has been the privilege of a lifetime. Although my term has drawn to a close, the next chapter in my service is just beginning — and I am eager to continue working with you in the years to come.