Cleland advises Stetson graduates

05/12/08 Doris Norrito
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Former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Stetson University College of Law and gave the commencement address Saturday morning at Stetson University in Gulfport.

A crowd of several hundred hushed to the sound of bagpipes as graduates of the College of Law filed onto the courtyard at Stetson University for the spring graduation ceremony.

Cleland is a veteran who lost both legs and his right arm when serving in Vietnam. Drawing on his own experience, Cleland used humor and admitted to his own shortcomings as a student to underscore three basic beliefs for the graduates.

Cleland was the subject of vicious attacks during his 2002 campaign for re-election. Republicans vilified him as being unpatriotic for his opposition to Bush and the war. He used a movie to point out the importance of defending the law.

Cleland drew upon Jimmy Carter’s inaugural speech to represent the spirit of the law. He spoke of the need to show courage and gave examples of people who followed the law even when it was unjust. It spoke the need for change in laws that over time would bring new laws and ultimately justice.

A recipient of the Silver Star and Bronze Star for valorous action in combat, Cleland rose above pain and disability to become a United States senator, author and strong advocate for voter and veteran rights.

Photo courtesy of C.J. Sagorski for Stetson University

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