By Chris Hulshof of Independence, Oregon. Chris describes himself as "a full time honor-roll GPA student at WOU, full time employee with T-Mobile, and I volunteer at least 20 hours a week of my time to progressive political and community issues."
A triple-amputated Vietnam veteran, popular national figure, and all-around American hero from the South is seldom seen in Oregon. However, a rare exception took place on Thursday, Sept. 14th as Senator Max Cleland traveled across the country from Georgia to join Paul Evans and his campaign for the Oregon Senate. (See more photos.)
Cleland came to support his fellow veterans in public service by speaking at two events put on by Oregon State Senate nominee for the 10th District, Paul Evans. Cleland and Evans spoke passionately at the events covering topics including America's dire military situation, lack of adequate health care, poor system of education, and extreme national debt.
Explained Senator Cleland:
We have a massive deficit in terms of our balance of trade. With the deficit brought up to some 9 trillion dollars, whether you know it or not, if you have a child or grandchild the moment they are born as an American citizen, they have a 30,000 dollar debt on their head to pay just in terms of how our deficit is now owed. We are in deep, deep trouble. We have a situation in our country where the public is ready to revolt.
In 1967, Cleland volunteered for combat duty in the Army and was shipped out to Vietnam. A year later he had attained the rank of captain, received Silver and Bronze Stars, and lost both legs and an arm to a Vietcong grenade blast. Two years later he became the youngest person ever elected to the Georgia State Senate, at the age of 28. Since then, Cleland has served as the head of the United States Veterans Administration, Georgia Secretary of State, and as a U.S. Senator. The moderate Democrat has gained fame for co-writing legislation that created the Homeland Security Department, his work on health care, bio-terrorism preparedness, and improving benefits for veterans returning home from war.
Introducing the Senator, Paul Evans said:
I can think of no better person to talk about this year, this election cycle, than a person who has been through the fire many times. The youngest elected state senator in Georgia history, youngest veterans administrator, and a senator who a lot of us in the military look up to. In fact, the senator who was trying to provide reason at a time when far too few national leaders had military experience. We welcome Senator Max Cleland.
It would be an understatement to say it is "rare" for a former U.S. Senator to be the guest of honor at 3 events hosted by a state senate candidate. These circumstances have led many to ask why Senator Cleland would be so concerned with state level politics.
Again, Senator Cleland:
He (Evans) comes back after touring Bosnia, after touring Kuwait, after two tours in Iraq, and says 'people of Oregon; people of America, it is time to change course.' All of his adult life he has spent in public service. We have a legitimate American hero in Paul Evans. This man has one of the most distinguished records of public service and military service I know of in this country. He is an asset.
Evans began his political career on the Monmouth city council at the age of 18, becoming one of the nation's youngest leaders. After graduating from Western Oregon University, Evans joined the U.S. Air Force. Upon completion of his service Evans was elected Mayor of Monmouth. During this time, he enrolled in the Oregon Air National Guard, taught at Western and OSU, volunteered with Polk county Fire District No 1, and taught bible-study at his church. After September 2001, Evans stepped down as Mayor to serve two tours in Iraq, bringing himself into a total of six combat zones over his military career.
The Paul Evans 2006 campaign is composed of mostly volunteer grassroots efforts. The race in Senate District 10 was considered by many a sure victory for Republican incumbent Jackie Winters not too long ago. Through volunteer door-to-door canvassing, phone banking, and over 700 individual citizen contributions, the race is now considered by many "one to watch" as the fall election nears.
Closing, Senator Cleland remarked:
Lincoln said it best about the American character - you can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all the time. This is that kind of year. This is why with your help, with your money, your contributions, your dialing for dollars, your dialing for votes, your lit drops, and your canvassing you are going to elect Paul Evans to the State Senate.
Go help Paul Evans. Do it now.