The U.S. Senate
In January of 1997, Chuck Hagel was sworn in as a U.S. Senator. His family attended the ceremony with Hagel's mother, Betty Hagel Breeding, sitting in the front row, a perfect view for watching her eldest son take the oath of office. Hagel chose his wife, Lilibet, to hold the Bible he was sworn in on. He would later go through this ceremony again in 2003 when he won reelection with over 83% of the vote, a record for largest margin of victory in any statewide race in Nebraska history.
Now that Senator Hagel was sworn in, it was time to get to work. He managed to get his top two committee choices, the Foreign Relations Committee and the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Hagel was also placed on the Committee on Aging which dealt with Medicare, Social Security, and other issues that affect the elderly.
Hagel was especially excited about working on the Foreign Relations Committee because it encompassed many different aspects of the federal government. More importantly, Hagel saw the work of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as an integral part of the U.S. Government's function in a growing international community that was becoming more connected with each passing day. Senator Hagel later joined the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence which oversees the U.S. Intelligence Community including the agencies and bureaus of the federal government that provide information and analysis for leaders of the executive and legislative branches.
Hagel was different from many of his senatorial counterparts in that he's a strong internationalist. While a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he frequently urged the U.S. Government to strengthen global alliances and ties to multilateral institutions. This was most apparent after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Only a few weeks after the attacks, Hagel made it clear in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN that creating a significant international coalition was essential for the United States in fighting Osama bin Laden and terrorism as a whole. He urged for cooperation among nations on military, diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic levels.
Hagel was very busy working away on Capitol Hill for the state of Nebraska and for the Republican Party. However, Hagel still made time for his constituents. The U.S. Senator was one of a few congressmen who welcomed visitors whenever they were in office. As seen in these images, Hagel met with everyone from Nebraska families and school groups to U.S. Government officials and foreign dignitaries. The Photographs Series of the U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel Archives at Criss Library includes a section dedicated to the photographs that were taken during the daily visits to Hagel's office in Washington, D.C.
While Hagel established himself in his new role as U.S. Senator, he also made sure to make time for his family. Hagel is pictured frequently with his children and his wife by his side for special events and occasions. For instance, Hagel was scheduled to appear on the CBS show Face the Nation along with other Senators and American political officials. Hagel brought Ziller with him enabling his son to see behind the scenes as well as the kind of work his dad did every day.