Monday, October 27, 2008

In Memorium: Paul Wellstone

This Saturday marked the sixth anniversary of the deaths of Paul and Shelia Wellstone, their daughter Marcia, three campaign workers, and the two pilots of the aircraft on its fatal flight. Paul was a teacher, mentor, and inspiration to me. His energy, commitment to progressive causes, and sheer humanity is irreplaceable, but we can honor his memory by continuing the fight for the causes he championed.

Belying the sentiment of some local idiots, Al Franken has a touching tribute to Wellstone on the front of his website:

Dear Friends,

Today marks six years since the plane crash that took the lives of Paul and Sheila Wellstone, their daughter Marcia Wellstone Markuson, Tom Lapic, Mary McEvoy, Will McLaughlin, and pilots Richard Conry and Michael Guess.

Six years, and we miss our friends more than ever. But just as we still feel the sting of their loss, we are still inspired by their passion, their courage, and their vision for what this country can be, expressed so simply and eloquently by Paul when he said, “We all do better when we all do better.”

Just about every Minnesotan who had the privilege to meet Paul and Sheila has a story about them. The one I’m remembering today happened the last time I saw Paul.

It was just a few weeks before he passed away. At the time, my mom was in a nursing home in Minneapolis. And when I saw Paul at an event I was doing for him, he was locked in a fierce and close campaign, but the first thing he said to me was, “How’s your mom?”

I said, “She’s not so good. Yesterday, I went to visit and I couldn’t even have a conversation with her.”

He nodded, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, “You know, touch means so much.”

The next day, I went back to the nursing home. My mom still wasn’t doing well. But I took her out into the garden and just sat with my arm around her for a while. And I don’t know if it meant anything to her – but it meant the world to me.

That was Paul. He used to say that politics wasn’t about winning or losing, it was about the improvement of people’s lives. I know a lot of people – Democrats, Republicans, folks who could care less about politics – who feel the way Franni and I do: our lives were improved immeasurably, simply by knowing Paul and Sheila.

We will continue to miss our friends -- but we will also continue to be inspired by their leadership, and we will continue to strive to live up to their courageous example.


Paul, we miss you, and we will win back your seat.

thanks also to MNPublius and Jeff Fecke

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