Former Sen. Max Cleland
, D-Ga., got a jump on his birthday Tuesday night when Sen. John Kerry
, D-Mass., hosted an early 70th birthday party for the current secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission
Over 200 people from around the globe showed up to the party, held in the Capitol, said Denny Roberge, a political consultant and Cleland friend who attended the party,
Cleland started in politics in 1971, three years after he returned from his service in the Vietnam War. As a U.S. Army captain, Cleland won a bronze and silver star before a battle wound forced the amputation of both his legs. In his three-plus decades in politics, Cleland worked in the Jimmy Carter administration, served as Georgia's secretary of state from 1982-1996 and later as a Georgia senator from 1997-2003.
Friends from throughout the decades joined Cleland Tuesday night, including over 40 senators, 25 members of Congress and four members of President Barack Obama's cabinet. Actor Jon Voight and Martin Sheen called in with well wishes, Roberge said.
Cleland was pleased at the turnout, reported Roberge. Cleland's actual birthday is Aug. 24.