I have fleeting impressions of Helms who was engaged in the heaviest political battles at a time when I was engaged in basic political growth and development.
I remember he was the target of left-wing hate speech and scurrilous distortions (from both Parties) for being on point in the fight against the destruction of American Liberty and Culture.
I already knew the price of confronting evil.
I remember, in 1994, that he stood, virtually alone, against the tide of Clinton’s nefarious Education “Goals 2000.” The “Helms Amendment” would have witheld Federal Funds from any School District that used it to deny religious freedom to a student (one of its primary objectives).
Slade Gorton voted, predictably, with Kennedy. And I remember I got the opportunity to personally query Slade as to his reasons for that at the next State Republican Convention. The old Snake said, “Jesse did it the wrong way!” attempting to attribute this particular instance of his life-long opposition to religious liberty to some “procedural” complaint (which he could not name). When the chips were down, Jesse was a stalwart, Slade was always on the other side.
I remember another “Helms Amendment” six years later when the year 2000 actually arrived.
29 GOP Senators helped defeat it, to help boost corporate profits from trade with Red China.
It was amendment ( 4128 ) to the China Trade Bill (HR-4444) and it said that that the President should urge Red China ‘to cease its forced abortion and forced sterilization policies and practices’ and ‘to cease detention of those who resist abortion or sterilization,’
“Free Trade” has its price, you see, and apparently slavery and murder is an acceptable part of that price. I’m not sure why they call it “Free,” though.
John McCain is not Pro-Life. Jesse Helms was Pro-Life.
But my most vivid Helms recollection was from the early ’80s. There was, pinned on the wall near her refrigerator, a personal letter from Jesse Helms with a photo and hand-written note of affection and grattitude directly to her… in the kitchen of my heroine and mentor of the time… Dottie Roberts.
The Roberts Ranch was the epicenter of the Snohomish County “Machias precinct”… a short drive from the Tom Thumb market in rural Lake Stevens. I remember, at one time, piles of Platforms from all 39 Counties stacked on every available surface… all night meetings and cigarette smoke… ad hoc conservative “summits”… I could drive there today out of sheer nostalgia. Dottie had helped defeat the ERA and had long fought the Abortion Advocacy machine that is the Mainstream Republicans of Washington.
So this morning when I saw the note from Billy Graham, I began looking on the Internet for a photo of Dottie with Jesse, but, you know, so many of our Pro-Life pioneers laid the foundations long before digital photography or the internet… Jesse and Dottie and Phyllis…
Helms’ spirit wrestled free of his worn out body, today, at the age of 86…
Dottie can’t be that young anymore. I hope I can get the time to visit her in Cawker City one of these days.
And I absolutely pledge before he is 186, to have lunch with Jesse. I didn’t know him. Dottie did.
Here’s what Billy had to say:
Jesse Helms, my friend and long-time senator from my home state of North Carolina, was a man of consistent conviction to conservative ideals and courage to faithfully serve God and country based on principle, not popularity or politics.
In the tradition of Presidents Jefferson, Adams and Monroe — who also passed on July 4th — it is fitting that such a patriot who fought for free markets and free people would die on Independence Day. As we celebrate the birth of our nation, I thank God for the blessings we enjoy, which Senator Helms worked so hard to preserve.
Over three decades in the United States Congress, Senator Helms was a loyal and effective leader on behalf of our State, with whom I connected during times of national crisis. He was the first person to call me when President Reagan was shot, even before it was reported as news.
Senator Helm’s wife, Dot; their three children; and seven grandchildren are in my thoughts and prayers as they honor his legendary life and extraordinary legacy.