Remembering A Fighter And Advocate

In this June 4, 1992 file photo, Hamilton Jordan answers questions at a news conference in Dallas. Jordan, a political strategist from south Georgia who helped propel Jimmy Carter to the White House where Jordan served as chief of staff, died Tuesday May 20, 2008 after a long battle with cancer. He was 63.

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

My friend Hamilton Jordan died last week and his obituary was in all the big newspapers, including the front page of the Washington Post.

The stories told how, as the boy wonder of American politics, he had devised the strategy that got an unknown Southern governor named Jimmy Carter elected president, and how he had become one of the most powerful men in America as Carter's White House chief of staff.

The stories were fine but they missed the point. The defining experience of Hamilton's life was not his time in the political spotlight, but what happened to him later, and how he handled it.

After leaving Washington he contracted cancer - and beat it. By the time he was 50, he had beaten two more cancers, experiences which caused him to become an advocate for cancer awareness.

He and his wife founded Camp Sunshine for children with the disease, raised money to fight it, and his wise advice on how to deal with it made a difference in the lives of thousands, including mine. He also helped those with other diseases, helping found Camp Kudzu for children with diabetes.

In all, he contracted six different cancers until his body finally gave out last week at the young age of 63.

So many times, he could have asked, "Why me?" Instead, time and again, he asked, "How can I help someone else?"

We all want to make a difference. Hamilton Jordan did - even as he fought his own long battle.

And finally on this Memorial Day weekend, when we honor those who gave their lives on the nation's battlefields, let us remember as well the wounded, those who came home from the battle not as God made them, but as war has left them.

There are many fine organizations that help them; two of the best are the Yellow Ribbon Fund and the Walter Reed Society.

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By Bob Schieffer
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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.