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tv   Fmr. Senator Max Cleland Strong at the Broken Places  CSPAN  November 9, 2021 11:20pm-11:44pm EST

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democracy. >> download c-span's new mobile app and stay up-to-date with live video coverage of today's biggest political events from live streams of the house and senate floor and to key congressional hearings. even our interactive morning program, washington journal, where we hear your voices every day. c-span has you covered. download the app for free today. >> max cleland has died at the age of 79. during an event in 2000, the former senator and veteran talked about his autobiography. it describes his experience in combat during the vietnam war where he lost both legs and arm. the memoir describes his rehabilitation and recovery.
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as ambulance driver in the italian army. and saul action so much so that he was involved in a mortar explosion, which almost cost him his right leg. he returned home to be welcomed as a war hero, but he never felt he was a war hero. he was full of shrapnel. he lost his first love. a recent book has been written, hemingway love and war
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translated into a marvelous movie in which he gets wounded and winds up in hospital and falls in love with his nurse, which i can understand. a farewell to arms is about that true life story. ultimately, his first love rejected him and he came home, turned to drink and became a great author. but a farewell to arms seems to capture the seeming futility of war and the extent to which war as hemingway says, the word breaks is all. but also a sense of recovery. the rest of that line is but many are strong at the broken places. i knew that line. the line was also used by arthur schlesinger jr. in his book kennedy, a thousand days. when that book came out in 1964, the frontage piece of the book
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has the line from ernest hemingway. it is about courage. it is a famous passage about courage, which of course we'll feel that jack kennedy had an arthur schlesinger felt he certainly had. the passage goes something like this. if you bring courage into the world, the world kills you. for me and you, it will take its own sweet time. the world breaks us all but after, many are strong at the broken places. 10 years after working on my book about five years, i published it in 1980. it was called strong at the broken places. i felt also like ernest hemingway that as he said i had gotten rid of him of a lot of things -- gotten rid of a lot of things by writing of them.
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it was the classic author's catharsis in which you say more in your book than you would ever admit to saying to another individual. winston churchill said about the role of an author, first of all, the idea of a book is a mistress. it is fascinating. it is different. it is exciting. you warm up to you it -- warm up to it quickly. get heavily involved with it. then it becomes a taskmaster. then it becomes a demon about to devour you. just before the demon devours you, you slay the demon and fling it out for all to read. that is about the way i feel about writing strong at the broken places. that is where i got the title. ultimately, the phrase strong at the broken places is the way i feel today.
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the hope there is no matter how broken we all are and how desperate we feel, physically, mentally or emotionally or spiritually, the truth of the matter is by the grace of god and the help of friends, we all can get strong at the broken places even at the deepest broken places in our lives. so hemingway was right. i think there is a fascinating part of that quote. the world breaks everyone. afterwards, many are strong at the broken places. it does not say all. i cannot tell you the number of young men and some women that in the course of spending a year and a half in v.a. hospitals and four years in the v.a., how many young men and women i have seen that did not become strong at the broken places. somehow their brokenness overcame them. if you feel strong at the broken places, thank god.
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and be grateful. i do everyday. and also thank your friends. friends can help us through the worst of times. i have on my desk in washington an interesting little artifact. miller used to say if you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he didn't get there by himself. the truth of the matter is for any of us, if we have been broken and we are fortunate enough by the grace of god to come back, we realize we did not do it by ourselves. we had the help of friends along the way. this is the story. in 1980, the book was published. by catherine marshall little outfit in lincoln, virginia. i don't know why, whether was my
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book or something else but she went under shortly thereafter. although we sold out of the first, which was 35,000 hardcopies, berkeley press bought the paperback rights in 1982. i thought that my rise to fame had been quick and all too short. so i as a budding hemingway and i published a book myself out of cherokee county -- cherokee publishing out of cobb county. i paid for it basically for about 15 years. i used to say to audiences about my book, someone introducing me would refer to me and say he is
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the author, i would say thank you for mentioning my book. a book that sold dozens throughout the great state of georgia. after becoming a member of the senate, i published a little book full of anecdotes". strong -- full of any notes and quotes -- anecdotes and quotes. i published a book which had 12 basic principles and a lot of my favorite quotes that reinforced those principles. a book that is still out by the way. think we have sold more than a dozen. we sold 10,000 copies right off the bat. that was published out of nashville, tennessee. it is still out there as far as i know. strong in the broken places was updated because i had an update
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in the story. paul harvey calls it the wrestler story. the wrestler story for me was i went 32 years thinking it was possibly my own grenade that blew me up in vietnam. since i never knew the full mystery of the story, i never doctrinally seem to could have been my grenade because i was wearing grenades. going into caisson. 5000 marines under siege. i was part of the first air cavalry division helping to break the siege in the assault. i got off that look up to, turned around and there was a grenade. i thought it might be mine. i had no idea it was life. i reached for it with my right hand. i swung my left hand behind me, which saved my left hand. i had my steel pot on, my flak vest, which saved me from being blown up in my chest. i reached down to get the grenade. five inches from it, the grenade
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went off and looked my right lung instant -- my right arm instantly. i laid on the ground bleeding to death. a young man, someone came to my aid and started cutting off my uniform, which i thought if anybody was in the military, you don't mess with somebody's uniform. where i am bleeding and dying and i'm worried about why he is cutting my uniform off. he's cutting my uniform off to make a tourniquet. the second guy began to attend to me. then there was a third guy. i was put on a helicopter. i never knew these people. they never knew me. a year and a half ago, i was interviewed on the history channel about comeback medics. it has been replayed a number of times. a trip it'd the saving of my life on the battlefield to young men who attended to me especially combat medics.
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the first young man to me on the battlefield so the piece and realized i did not know it was not my grenade. he calls up one day. he said my name is david lloyd and i was in the marine corps. i was there when you got wounded. i just when you know it was not your grenade. i said, what? he said i was the first guy to you. i was the guy cutting off uniform. i thought only somebody who was there who did that would know that. he introduced me. we found the other two. david was the first to me. lives in an upper list, maryland. basically retired and raising his family. the second guy was a navy corpsman who told david to go to
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the next guy. what happened was the next guy was a young man who had been in the country one or two days. he was very new. he had been convinced some way that if you straighten out the pins under grenades, you can pull them out easily in combat. that made him a walking bomb. when he jumped off the chopper, there grenade fell from his pack, not mine. he was filled with shrapnel. when dave got to him, they told me the story. he was saying it is all my fault. he was crying. david took off of him two more grenades where the pens had been straightened out. the third guy to me wrapped a tourniquet around my right arm bleeding profusely. steve johnson, the navy corpsman who is still in health care
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texas and the young man who was the third guy to me, he is a counselor in vet center in the upper midwest. i created the vet center program in 1980 when i was head of the v.a. the fascinating turn of events is he helped save my life on the battlefield april 8, 1968. our last -- our lives crossed for two or three dramatic moments. i become head of the veterans administration. form the vet center program. this young man gets out of the marine corps, joins the army but still suffers from turmoil, becomes maybe 52 bomber pilot and passes a vet center in
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california and realizes he better go in for counseling. he goes in for counseling and credits that with saving his life. the people in the air force realize he was a b 52 bomber pilot with stress. they said you can't carry nuclear weapons and be a fighter pilot with stress. he was medically retired after 16 years in the service and he now is a counselor himself with other veterans. there is no way you can play that out in a novel. april 8, 1968 he saves my life and someday in the 1980's, he walks into the vet center and i helped save his life. that is the rest of the story. that is the introduction. the forward is by john mccain. john mccain is an exceptional human being as you all will know. he is my friend. he is my brother. we are broad brothers in the senate. he has written a powerful,
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highly complementary forward to the book. otherwise, the story is the same. then we update all the personalities in the book. the people at the hospital he 30 years ago. the people i got into -- came back to georgia too. it is fascinating not just what happened to me 32 years ago but what has happened to other people. guys on the ward. nurses. fellow military people. we just seeing now in the holidays the great jimmy stewart movie it's a wonderful life. if you really can draw out over a long time and track the lives of the people you intersect with and they intersect with you, it is amazing what a profound impact they have on you.
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it is also amazing what a profound impact you have when other people. it is a wonderful life. it is possible to become strong at the broken places. so welcome to the long streak publication of strong at the broken places to we have some nibbles from hollywood. sent them up for reelection in 2002. it has got some good pictures, some new photos. it is a heck of a story even if it is mine. if you want a note of encouragement, by the book. if you want to send it to somebody and encourage them, send to them. dr. schumer said he got so
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discouraged one day, he resorted to reading one of his own books. sometimes i have to read one of my own books. it is amazing that life works out the way it does. wonderful chaplain in the senate said and it is possible to live strong at the broken places. [applause] we are glad to have c-span2 here. i'm normally on from the floor of the senate. making rhetorical pronouncements on everything from nuclear war to our military forces around the world to campaign-finance reform with john mccain. today, we are talking about a simple straightforward human story of survival and ultimately of survival with hope. we hope our c-span audience
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enjoys it as well. comments from the audience. we have a microphone here. comments or questions. it is your big shot to get on c-span. >> i went to so you look very good. you are aging very well. >> they say the three stages of life, youth, middle-age and you sure are working -- you sure looking well. [laughter] >> i always been curious that ernest hemingway even though he wrote those words, he seemed to have known that perhaps he would not make it. that irony has always struck me. i wonder what you thought about him. we don't know why anybody becomes an alcoholic. but he was one. and you know, after the war and after the lost love, he went to
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pairs. he loves paris. said it was a movable feast. he could enjoy paris wherever he was in the world. gertrude stein and other writers and authors and really got into postwar paris. that was his lifestyle. he had this knowing knowledge of life and death. when you are on the battlefield, if you have been almost blown up yourself, you have an insight into life and death most people don't have. i think he came back and decided to live for the moment. lived his life that way. i think he died too quickly. it would've been nice to sit
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around and talk with ernest hemingway. one of the fascinating books i read in vietnam with a guy who wrote a book called papa hemingway. he was a personal friend of hemingway in his later days. kind of got that hemingway philosophy. it is fascinating pin where the things i like about hemingway is he doesn't try to glorify his sentences. he says i rate the way i feel and they call it style. hemingway has that great ability to put the right word there in a short sentence. mark twain said the difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. hemingway has that great ability
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to give us that right word and give a set phrase. we get several phrases. strong at the broken places. we get that phrase about courage, grace under pressure. and another phrase, moment of truth. out of the bull fighters in spain. hemingway used that as an analogy of encountering life in its raw form. he had seen it in his role form up close -- his role form. he just always stayed close to that. it was a terrifying thing for him and yet it was an exhilarating thing for him. he said early in his life he was afraid of nothing. as you get older, your fears develop a little bit. hemingway was a heckuva guy and a hell of a man. he was a man's man. a soldier's writer.
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a warrior author. which is why i was taking him even before going to vietnam. after coming back, got back into his writing and ultimately i wrote my first book with a title from his great war novel. someone else. sir? anybody yucca -- anybody yucca >> we are proud to have you as our senator. [applause] >> i'm proud to be in the senate. it is a great institution. i like it very much. why don't we start signing some books?
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>> wednesday, advocates testify on hunger among veterans and service members before a house agriculture subcommittee. live coverage beginning at 12:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, online it's or watch on c-span now, our new video app. >> a new mobile video app from c-span. c-span now. download today. >> commerce secretary gina raimondo joined white house deputy press secretary karine john pierre for a briefing on the president's infrastructure agenda. she addressed her departments well in the newly signed a bill.


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