The Honorable Max Cleland's Speech Before the Democratic National Convention Thursday, July 29, 2004

Jul 29, 2004, 01:00 ET from Democratic National Convention Committee

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    BOSTON, July 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of a speech
 by the Honorable Max Cleland before the Democratic National Convention on
 Thursday, July 29, 2004:
 
     Thanks so much, Jim.
     Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to share with you my story of how I came to
 know and love John Kerry. In April of 1968, while I was being airlifted out of
 Vietnam on a stretcher, Ensign John Kerry was headed in a different direction.
 He was on a Navy ship in the Pacific requesting to be transferred into Vietnam
 -- into the line of fire. He had graduated from college. There were a lot of
 other things he could have done with his life. But he went to serve because he
 had been raised to believe that service to one's country is honorable, noble,
 and good.
     While John Kerry was earning a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three
 Purple Hearts, I was being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in
 Washington D.C. I was 25 years old. My body was broken and my faith was
 shattered. One day, on leave from the hospital, a friend was pushing me around
 the city, in my new wheelchair. In front of the White House, it hit a curb. I
 fell forward out of the wheelchair. There were cigarette butts and trash all
 around me. I remember trying to lift myself up off the street. I was angry at
 the war. Saddened that veterans weren't getting good care. And frustrated that
 people in power weren't listening. Those were difficult days for me.
     But, I ultimately realized that although I had lost a lot, I still had a
 lot left, and I resolved to make something of my life. I decided to run for
 the State Senate in Georgia. I won, but when I got there, in 1971, I was a
 lone voice.
     Then I heard this young veteran on TV speaking about the war. It was John
 Kerry. He put everything I was feeling into words.
     Tonight, I'd like to let you know, that even before I met John Kerry, he
 was my brother. Even before I knew John Kerry, he was my friend. Even before I
 spoke with John Kerry, he gave me hope.
     The Bible tells me that no greater love has a man than to lay down his
 life for his friends. John Kerry's fellow crewmates -- the men I am honored to
 share the stage with -- are living testimony to his leadership, his courage
 under fire, and his willingness to risk his life for his fellow Americans.
 There is no greater act of patriotism than that.
     As I look back over the last 36 years, I now realize John Kerry's service
 to his country didn't end in Vietnam. It began there. Since Vietnam, John
 Kerry's life has become an object lesson in what was once described as the
 true definition of patriotism -- "the long and steady dedication of a
 lifetime."
     When we make John Kerry our next president, he will put America back on
 the long and steady road toward the vision of the country we fought for -- a
 vision of the country we can become once again. A country that doesn't
 alienate our allies, but works with them. A country that doesn't lose jobs,
 but creates them. A country that doesn't limit educational opportunity, but
 expands it. A country that doesn't make health care less available, but more
 affordable. A country that doesn't spoil our environment, but protects it. A
 country that is strong a country that is respected, a country that is worthy
 of generations of sacrifice, and our children's highest hopes.
     That is the America John Kerry volunteered to fight for. That is the
 America John Kerry will lead.
     When John Kerry declared he was a candidate for the presidency of the
 United States, on a hot, steamy day in Charleston, South Carolina, a little
 less than a year ago, I joined the band of brothers at his side. After the
 ceremony, I grabbed his arm and pressed a Bible into his hand. It was the
 Bible I once read from as a child. I knew that he would need its strength, its
 guidance and its comfort in the days ahead. At first, he said he was afraid he
 might lose it, he refused to take it. I insisted. I told him: "Hold on to
 this... You'll need it like your country needs you now." He took the Bible,
 and said softly, "I won't let you down."
     My fellow Americans -- John Kerry has never let me down. He'll never let
 you down. He is an authentic American hero. He is the next captain of our ship
 of state. And he will be the next president of the United States.
     In every hour of challenge -- in every hour of danger -- American heroes
 have answered their country's call. Just blocks from where we are tonight,
 some 230 years ago, a group called the Sons of Liberty assembled to demand
 democracy, and a voice in their future. Mere steps from where we are, a former
 slave named Crispus Attucks gave his life for freedom. And around the corner
 from where we are, a beacon of light from the old North Church set Paul Revere
 on a mission to save this country's people from danger.
     Those were fateful hours for our young nation. Tonight I am honored to
 introduce to you another son of liberty, a brother in arms, a man called by
 destiny at this fateful hour in our nation's history.
     He is my brother. He is my friend. He is my hero. Ladies and gentlemen,
 tonight, John Kerry answers the call.
 
 

SOURCE Democratic National Convention Committee
    BOSTON, July 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of a speech
 by the Honorable Max Cleland before the Democratic National Convention on
 Thursday, July 29, 2004:
 
     Thanks so much, Jim.
     Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to share with you my story of how I came to
 know and love John Kerry. In April of 1968, while I was being airlifted out of
 Vietnam on a stretcher, Ensign John Kerry was headed in a different direction.
 He was on a Navy ship in the Pacific requesting to be transferred into Vietnam
 -- into the line of fire. He had graduated from college. There were a lot of
 other things he could have done with his life. But he went to serve because he
 had been raised to believe that service to one's country is honorable, noble,
 and good.
     While John Kerry was earning a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three
 Purple Hearts, I was being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in
 Washington D.C. I was 25 years old. My body was broken and my faith was
 shattered. One day, on leave from the hospital, a friend was pushing me around
 the city, in my new wheelchair. In front of the White House, it hit a curb. I
 fell forward out of the wheelchair. There were cigarette butts and trash all
 around me. I remember trying to lift myself up off the street. I was angry at
 the war. Saddened that veterans weren't getting good care. And frustrated that
 people in power weren't listening. Those were difficult days for me.
     But, I ultimately realized that although I had lost a lot, I still had a
 lot left, and I resolved to make something of my life. I decided to run for
 the State Senate in Georgia. I won, but when I got there, in 1971, I was a
 lone voice.
     Then I heard this young veteran on TV speaking about the war. It was John
 Kerry. He put everything I was feeling into words.
     Tonight, I'd like to let you know, that even before I met John Kerry, he
 was my brother. Even before I knew John Kerry, he was my friend. Even before I
 spoke with John Kerry, he gave me hope.
     The Bible tells me that no greater love has a man than to lay down his
 life for his friends. John Kerry's fellow crewmates -- the men I am honored to
 share the stage with -- are living testimony to his leadership, his courage
 under fire, and his willingness to risk his life for his fellow Americans.
 There is no greater act of patriotism than that.
     As I look back over the last 36 years, I now realize John Kerry's service
 to his country didn't end in Vietnam. It began there. Since Vietnam, John
 Kerry's life has become an object lesson in what was once described as the
 true definition of patriotism -- "the long and steady dedication of a
 lifetime."
     When we make John Kerry our next president, he will put America back on
 the long and steady road toward the vision of the country we fought for -- a
 vision of the country we can become once again. A country that doesn't
 alienate our allies, but works with them. A country that doesn't lose jobs,
 but creates them. A country that doesn't limit educational opportunity, but
 expands it. A country that doesn't make health care less available, but more
 affordable. A country that doesn't spoil our environment, but protects it. A
 country that is strong a country that is respected, a country that is worthy
 of generations of sacrifice, and our children's highest hopes.
     That is the America John Kerry volunteered to fight for. That is the
 America John Kerry will lead.
     When John Kerry declared he was a candidate for the presidency of the
 United States, on a hot, steamy day in Charleston, South Carolina, a little
 less than a year ago, I joined the band of brothers at his side. After the
 ceremony, I grabbed his arm and pressed a Bible into his hand. It was the
 Bible I once read from as a child. I knew that he would need its strength, its
 guidance and its comfort in the days ahead. At first, he said he was afraid he
 might lose it, he refused to take it. I insisted. I told him: "Hold on to
 this... You'll need it like your country needs you now." He took the Bible,
 and said softly, "I won't let you down."
     My fellow Americans -- John Kerry has never let me down. He'll never let
 you down. He is an authentic American hero. He is the next captain of our ship
 of state. And he will be the next president of the United States.
     In every hour of challenge -- in every hour of danger -- American heroes
 have answered their country's call. Just blocks from where we are tonight,
 some 230 years ago, a group called the Sons of Liberty assembled to demand
 democracy, and a voice in their future. Mere steps from where we are, a former
 slave named Crispus Attucks gave his life for freedom. And around the corner
 from where we are, a beacon of light from the old North Church set Paul Revere
 on a mission to save this country's people from danger.
     Those were fateful hours for our young nation. Tonight I am honored to
 introduce to you another son of liberty, a brother in arms, a man called by
 destiny at this fateful hour in our nation's history.
     He is my brother. He is my friend. He is my hero. Ladies and gentlemen,
 tonight, John Kerry answers the call.
 
 SOURCE  Democratic National Convention Committee