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In Memoriam: Paul and Sheila Wellstone

October 25, 2002

U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone
U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone
America lost two of its most dedicated patriots today. No one loved this country and its spirit and diversity more than Sheila and Paul Wellstone, who died this morning in a plane crash in rural Minnesota. Senator Wellstone was often the sole voice for women, children, the disadvantaged and disheartened, always speaking out for those who had no voice in the halls of Congress or other corridors of elite power. He was singularly determined to use his wit, charm and political acumen to advance the rights and support the dignity of every individual. At his side today and forever, his soulmate and greatest resource and strength, Sheila Wellstone dedicated her time and energy to eradicating violence and sexual assault from the lives of children, women and families.

In homes, offices and communities across the nation and around the world, Paul and Sheila Wellstone will be mourned and revered. They leave behind a safer, more secure world because of their courage and perseverance. They will be remembered by millions of fans and admirers and they leave a legacy of deep and abiding love for America through their unwavering public service, unflagging spirit, deep respect for the dignity of people, and their core belief that everyone deserves a fair chance.

Throughout his two terms, Paul Wellstone was a giant in the Senate. He championed initiatives to help poor women confront the violence and abuse in their lives; he demanded that mental illness be addressed fully and fairly by the health care system; he insisted that training and education be made available to low income families as a real path out of poverty. The billions of dollars recently reauthorized for the Violence Against Women Act are part of his bequest. He believed so deeply in the fruits of peace that he was willing to risk his reelection and political career with his recent vote against the Iraq war resolution.

We counted on their presence and persistence and relied not only on the Senator's vote and leadership but also on Sheila's constant and unwavering dedication to serve Minnesota and the country. We will miss their voices and courage, their humility and spirit.

NOW members everywhere are in shock and in mourning at the loss of these Titans. We are desolate and grieving, but nonetheless determined to renew our spirits in their honor and use that energy to bring to this country a new awakening and a new dedication that will do justice to their memory.

Paul Wellstone was principled, passionate and prophetic. He was our friend and champion, and will always be without peer in our hearts. The people of Minnesota have much to mourn, and great shoes to fill. The most measurable thing Minnesotans, and all Americans, can do in his memory is to do what he so often urged - exercise their right to vote and urge others to do the same. November 5 will be their opportunity to cast one final vote in the spirit of Paul Wellstone.


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