Who was Mike Gravel?
Mike Gravel or Maurice Robert “Mike” Gravel born on May 13, 1930 was an American politician who served as the United States Senator from Alaska from 1969 to 1981 as a member of the Democratic Party and who ran for the presidential nomination of that party in 2008 and 2020.
As a senator, Gravel became nationally known for his forceful but unsuccessful attempts to end the draft during the War in Vietnam and for putting the Pentagon Papers into the public record in 1971. He conducted a campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1972 for Vice President of the United States, and then played a crucial role in obtaining Congressional approval for the Trans-Alaska pipeline in 1973. He was reelected to the Senate in 1974, but his bid for a third term was defeated in a primary election in 1980.
Mike Gravel Death, Reason Of Death
Mike Gravel died of multiple myeloma at his home in Seaside, California, on June 26, 2021, at age 91.
The obituary for him in The New York Times stated that Gravel was “a two-term Democratic senator from Alaska … who was perhaps better known as an unabashed attention-getter” who later become known for “mounting long-shot presidential runs”. The obituary in The Washington Post was similar, saying that Gravel was “an Alaska Democrat with a flair for the theatrical who rose from obscurity to brief renown” and later “ran quixotic campaigns for the presidency”. The Anchorage Daily News quoted Gravel as saying of himself in 1989, “I’m an independent kind of guy. A rough and ready kind of guy. My glands work in a certain way that make me stand up, foolishly sometimes, and fight.”
The Gravel Institute, a progressive think tank founded by the former senator, also confirmed his death and remembered him in a tweet Sunday.
“We are sad to announce that Senator Mike Gravel passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, at his home in Seaside, California. He was 91, and had lived the fullest live (sic) anyone could have ever wanted. We will miss him every day,” the institute said.
Mike Gravel was also founder and chairman of the nonprofit Democracy Foundation.
Mike Gravel Biography, Wiki
Gravel was born on May 13, 1930, in Springfield, Massachusetts, one of five children of French-Canadian immigrant parents, Alphonse and MarieGravel. His parents were part of the Quebec diaspora, and he was raised in a working-class neighborhood during the Great Depression, speaking only French until he was seven years old. Calling him “Mike” from an early age, his father valued work above all else, while his mother stressed the importance of education.
Around May 1951, Gravel saw that he was about to be drafted and instead enlisted in the U.S. Army for a three-year term so that he could get into the Counterintelligence Corps. After basic training and counterintelligence school at Fort Holabird in Maryland and in South Carolina, he went to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. While he expected to be sent off to the Korean War when he graduated as a second lieutenant in early 1952, he was instead assigned to Stuttgart, West Germany, as a Special Adjutant in the Army’s Communications Intelligence Service. In Germany, Gravel conducted surveillance operations on civilians and paid off spies.
After about a year, he transferred to Orléans, France, where his French language abilities (if not his French-Canadian accent) allowed him to infiltrate French communist rallies. He worked as a Special Agent in the Counterintelligence Corps until 1954 eventually becoming a first lieutenant.
He served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1963 to 1966 where he was elected state House Speaker in 1965. Gravel was elected to Congress in 1968, where he served as a senator from 1969 to 1981.
In 1971, Gravel gained nationwide attention after he read portions of the Pentagon Papers, a collection of leaked top-secret information about the Vietnam War, into the Congressional Record in an effort to end the war. The documents showed that senior leaders, including several presidents, believed the war was unwinnable, and that the government had misled Congress and the public about its progress.
He launched an unsuccessful bid for the presidency as a Democrat in 2006, and later, after ending his campaign, announced he would switch to the libertarian party. After a failed long-shot campaign for the presidency in 2019, he endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Mike Gravel was educated in parochial schools as a Roman Catholic. There he struggled, due to what he later said was undiagnosed dyslexia, and was left back in third grade. He completed elementary school in 1945 and his class voted him “most charming personality”. A summer job as a soda jerk led to Gravel handing out campaign fliers for local candidates on his boss’s behalf; Gravel was immediately impressed with “the awesomeness of political office”.
Mike Gravel Awards and honors
In 2008 Mike Gravel received the Columbia University School of General Studies’ first annual Isaac Asimov Lifetime Achievement Award.
About Mike Gravel’s “The Gravel Institute”
Gravel used some of the funds remaining from his 2020 presidential campaign to found an eponymous progressive think tank called The Gravel Institute in 2019. As noted by Vice magazine, the institute aims to do battle with PragerU from a left-wing perspective. Launched in September 2020, the new entity said it would “carry on the life’s work of former U.S Senator Mike Gravel in fighting for global peace and democracy. Its mission is to promote bold and forward-looking ideas about a more peaceful and egalitarian world, and to build a robust movement of young people to win it”.
Contributors announced include Cornel West and Slavoj Žižek, as well as Lower Brule Indian Reservation activist Nick Estes. Other presenters have included and will include H. Jon Benjamin, Briahna Joy Gray, Bernie Sanders, Chelsea Manning, Richard Wolff, Stephanie Kelton, Zephyr Teachout, David Cross, Jabari Brisport, Zohran Mamdani, and Gravel himself (though it is unknown if his appearance will be cancelled due to his death in June 2021, or if the video has already been recorded).