While in college he was in the ROTC. He volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. A grenade blew off both his legs and his right arm. After returning home for therapy, he served in several public offices in Georgia, and in 1996 was elected to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat. He was considered a moderate. What an amazing set of heroic accomplishments!
Max Cleland has written a new book about all this, and he recounts in gripping testimony what veterans face when returning home from war. For all of us who make statements about war and often exhibit "patriotic and heroic" actions from someplace other than the battlefield, this is a must read. It is time to "get real" and Mr. Cleland makes it real. But this aspect of the book will get short notice because this book is a political bombshell and revelation.
Max Cleland was not re-elected to the Senate in 2002 because he was attacked as unpatriotic by non-veteran people who concocted lie after lie about him. They were vicious. The ads and the contrivance were put together by Karl Rove and the Bush administration, hardly a bastion of war heroes. To get Republican Saxby Chambliss elected, this gang of liars presented ads showing Cleland alongside Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
Republican Senator John McCain immediately saw the connection to the type of smear campaign that Bush and Rove used against him in a presidential primary by questioning his patriotism, and McCain joined Republican Chuck Hagel to demand those ads against Cleland stop. After many appeals and stone-walling, they slightly altered the nature of the attacks, but they were still vicious and untrue.
Max Cleland later commented: "The attacks on McCain, Kerry and me, all decorated wounded combat veterans, are a shameful legacy of the Bush administration, and among the most shameful political stunts in the nation's history." Ironically, Chambliss never served in the military because of a "trick knee."
Cleland further observed: "For me, the inauguration of George W. Bush ushered in a period I can only describe as unshirted hell."
[I shall comment more on this book later] The book: HEART OF A PATRIOT: HOW I FOUND THE COURAGE TO SURVIVE VIETNAM, WALTER REED AND KARL ROVE by Max Cleland, Simon & Schuster