Former ABMC Secretary Max Cleland passed away November 9, 2021
As we observed Veterans Day, we honored all who have worn the uniform of the United States armed forces.
We remember especially our former Secretary Max Cleland, who died Tuesday November 9, at the age of 79. Max, as he insisted he be called, lived a remarkable and distinguished life, losing both legs and an arm in Vietnam, yet going on to become a Georgia State Senator, Administrator of the Veterans Administration, Georgia Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission from June 2009 to January 2017.
His path crossed ABMC’s prior to his appointment by President Obama to serve as our seventh Secretary.
While serving as VA Administrator he worked with ABMC to add the Vietnam War Courts of the Missing to our Honolulu Memorial, which he dedicated in 1980. Then, as ABMC Secretary, he completed the memorial’s Vietnam War commemoration by adding a Vietnam battle maps pavilion in 2012. At that dedication, he said,
“As you leave these grounds, I ask you to reflect on the words of the poet Archibald MacLeish, who lost a brother in World War I; words now forever inscribed on the Vietnam Pavilion: ‘WE LEAVE YOU OUR DEATHS. GIVE THEM THEIR MEANING.’ Those words say it all for me.”
You will find those words not only on the Vietnam Pavilion, but in many of the speeches he gave as ABMC Secretary. Secretary Max Cleland was a true patriot, leader and gentleman; his daily courage and dedication to public service was an inspiration to all of us who had the honor of knowing and serving with him.
He will be missed.
Watch former ABMC Secretary Max Cleland speak about what Veterans Day means, to him, to ABMC, and to all Americans: