To me the fire is a splendid metaphor for life. Sometimes raging and fervent, sometimes glowing softly and evenly, other times reduced to struggling embers. In her funeral oration, my daughter, Robin, told of her Dad starting a warm blaze in the fireplace on a cold morning. In his last words before leaving the house, he would admonish those remaining at home, 'Don't let the fire go out.' During the 2000 election, the phrase became the rallying cry for supporters wanting to revive what appeared to be a lost cause. Within days, a political campaign halted during a disastrous hour was transformed into a hopeful movement. The slogan Don't Let the Fire Go Out! became the guiding force for Jean Carnahan as she confronted life's challenges after her husband, son, and longtime friend were killed in a plane crash on October 16, 2000. The wife of Mel Carnahan, the well-known and highly respected Missouri governor and popular leader of the Democratic Party, Jean Carnahan made history when she agreed to serve in the Senate after Missouri voters elected her husband to the position posthumously.
Jean Carnahan served as United States Senator from January 3, 2001, to November 25, 2002. Author of several books, including If Walls Could Talk: The Story of Missouri's First Families, she lives in St. Louis, Missouri.