Loading...

Max Cleland, Who Went From Wounded Warrior to US Senate, Dies

November 9, 2021 by Dan McCue
Max Cleland, Who Went From Wounded Warrior to US Senate, Dies
Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., foreground, raises his hand to the crowd at a campaign rally in downtown Atlanta, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2002. He was 79. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, file)

ATLANTA — Max Cleland, who lost three limbs to a Vietnam War hand grenade blast and later served as a U.S. senator from Georgia, died on Tuesday. 

Cleland, who was 79, died at his home in Atlanta. The cause was congestive heart failure.

During his career in public service, he also served as administrator of the U.S. Veterans Administration, as Georgia secretary of state and as a Georgia state senator.

President Joe Biden described Cleland Tuesday as “an American hero whose fearless service to our nation, and to the people of his beloved home state of Georgia, never wavered.”

“As a 25-year-old serving in the 1st Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, Max lost both of his legs and his right arm in a grenade explosion at Khe Sanh,” Binden said. “After grueling months in the hospital, enduring multiple surgeries and a long road back to recovery, Max turned his pain into purpose.  He continued his distinguished public service, becoming a lifelong champion of the dignity and rights of working people and America’s wounded veterans.  

“His leadership was the essential driving force behind the creation of the modern VA health system, where so many of his fellow heroes have found lifesaving support and renewed purpose of their own thanks in no small part to Max’s lasting impact,” the president continued.

“I had the distinct honor of knowing Max as both a colleague and a friend during our six years together in the United States Senate.  He was a man of unflinching patriotism, boundless courage, and rare character.  I was proud to have Max by my side.  He will be remembered as one of Georgia’s and America’s great leaders,” Biden said.

“Max Cleland was the bold warrior with a big heart and loved by all in the Senate,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a written statement.

“Throughout his life, Max was dedicated to serving our country as a soldier in Vietnam, helping his fellow veterans as VA administrator, and as a United States senator. My thoughts are with Max Cleland’s family and all his friends who loved him. We all will miss him dearly,” Schumer said.

Sen. Jon Ossoff, the first Democrat to hold the seat since Cleland’s defeat by Republican Saxby Chambliss in 2002, called him “a hero, a patriot, a public servant, and a friend.”

Cleland was a U.S. Army captain in Vietnam when he lost an arm and two legs while picking up a dropped grenade near Khe Sanh in April 1968. 

“When my eyes cleared I looked at my right hand. It was gone,” Cleland wrote in his 1980 memoir, “Strong at the Broken Places.”

For years, Cleland blamed himself for dropping it, but he learned from a former Army medic  in 1999 that another soldier had dropped it.

Depressed after his grave injuries, Cleland became increasingly interested in politics.

President Jimmy Carter asked Cleland to lead the United States Veterans Administration in 1977, and he stayed on until 1981. Cleland served in the Georgia Senate from 1971-1975. 

After a failed 1974 campaign for lieutenant governor and his stint heading the VA, Cleland was elected as Georgia’s secretary of state in 1982, an office he held until 1996.

A dozen years later, he opted to seek the seat of retiring Sen. Sam Nunn, but served only one term after Chambliss ran negative campaign ads against him.

Since then, Cleland served as a director of the Export-Import Bank and was appointed by former President Barack Obama to be secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

The Associated Press contributed this report.

In The News

Health

Voting

U.S. Senate

January 21, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Antitrust Bill Targets Big Tech For Preferential Treatment Given to Their Own Products

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee approved antitrust legislation Thursday that bans Big Tech from giving a preference to their... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee approved antitrust legislation Thursday that bans Big Tech from giving a preference to their own products and services on their internet platforms. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act responds to criticism that Amazon, Apple, Google and Meta Platforms Inc.’s... Read More

Voting Bill Collapses, Democrats Unable to Change Filibuster

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voting legislation that Democrats and civil rights leaders say is vital to protecting democracy collapsed when two senators refused... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Voting legislation that Democrats and civil rights leaders say is vital to protecting democracy collapsed when two senators refused to join their own party in changing Senate rules to overcome a Republican filibuster after a raw, emotional debate. The outcome Wednesday night was a stinging... Read More

January 18, 2022
by Dan McCue
‘Eye of Nation Watching’ as Voting Rights Bill Appears Headed for Defeat

WASHINGTON — With the defeat of sweeping voting rights legislation all but certain in the Senate this week, Majority Leader... Read More

WASHINGTON — With the defeat of sweeping voting rights legislation all but certain in the Senate this week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stressed a different goal as he opened the chamber’s session on Tuesday, forcing all senators to go on the record about where they stand... Read More

Sinema, Manchin Slammed as Senate Begins Voting Bill Debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing stark criticism from civil rights leaders, senators return to Capitol Hill under intense pressure to change... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing stark criticism from civil rights leaders, senators return to Capitol Hill under intense pressure to change their rules and break a Republican filibuster that has hopelessly stalled voting legislation. The Senate is set to launch debate Tuesday on the voting bill with attention... Read More

January 14, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Senate Bills Seek to Enforce Bans on Stock Trades by Members of Congress

WASHINGTON — Two bills introduced in the Senate this week would broaden the ban on members of Congress buying and... Read More

WASHINGTON — Two bills introduced in the Senate this week would broaden the ban on members of Congress buying and selling stocks while they hold public office. The bills from Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley follow a Business Insider report showing 52... Read More

January 14, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Senator Who Clashed with Dr. Fauci Proposes Financial Disclosure Bill

WASHINGTON – A U.S. senator from Kansas who clashed with disease expert Anthony Fauci this week said he plans to... Read More

WASHINGTON – A U.S. senator from Kansas who clashed with disease expert Anthony Fauci this week said he plans to introduce a bill intended to force more disclosure of personal finances onto highly-paid government employees.  Sen. Roger Marshall is calling it the Financial Accountability for Uniquely... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version