Interview with Max Cleland, May 5, 2009

Collection: Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection

Dublin Core


Joseph Maxwell Cleland first became interested in politics during his Washington Semester Program. In 1965, he was asked by Senator Richard B. Russell to become a congressional intern. Cleland then joined the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Silver Star for valorous conduct in battle. At the Battle of Khe Sanh in 1968, he was severely wounded by a grenade, resulting in the amputation of both legs and his right forearm. In 1971, he was elected as a Democrat to the Georgia Senate. In 1974, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor. From 1977 to 1981, he served as administrator of the U.S. Veterans Administration under President Jimmy Carter. In 1982, he ran a successful campaign for Georgia Secretary of State, and served in that office for fourteen years. In 1996, Senator Sam Nunn retired, and Cleland won Nunn’s seat. He lost his bid for reelection in 2002 to Saxby Chambliss. In 2009, he was appointed by President Obama to serve as secretary of the American Battle Monuments. Cleland discusses the Vietnam War, the role of Georgia's secretary of state, and the current state of the military, both at home and abroad.






Oral History Item Type Metadata


Max Cleland and Bob Short, “Interview with Max Cleland, May 5, 2009,” UGA Special Collections Libraries Oral Histories, accessed January 20, 2022,