(Senate - April 16, 1996)
[Page: S3345]

Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, on March 14 of this year, one of the most impressive young men I have ever met came to my office, accompanied by his justifiably proud mother. Lucius Wade Edwards, 16, had just come from the White House. He had visited with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton who praised him for having been 1 of the 10 finalists in a contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Voice of America.

His father, John R. Edwards; his mother, Elizabeth Anania Edwards, and his younger sister, Kate, accompanied him to the White House living quarters for his visit with Mrs. Clinton.

Wade was being honored for his having written a poignant essay entitled, What It Means To Be An American. Wade described going with his father to vote.

It was, as I said at the outset, Mr. President, March 14, 1996, when Wade and his dear mother stopped by my office. Three weeks later, on April 4, Wade died in an automobile accident that involved no carelessness, no recklessness, no failure to wear his seatbelt. It was just one of those tragic things that happen, and it snuffed out the life of this remarkable young man.

Mr. President, in a moment I shall ask unanimous consent that two important insertions into the Record be in order. The first will be the text of the award-winning essay written by Wade. It is entitled `Fancy Clothes and Overalls.'

The second is an account, published in the Raleigh News and Observer on April 4, 1996, relating to the tragic death of Wade Edwards.

I now ask unanimous consent, Mr. President, that the two aforementioned documents be printed in the Record at the conclusion of my remarks and in the order specified by me.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

Fancy Clothes and Overalls


A little boy and his father walk into a firehouse. He smiles at people standing outside. Some hand pamphlets to his father. They stand in line. Finally, they go together into a small booth, pull the curtain closed, and vote. His father holds the boy up and shows him which levers to move.

`We're ready, Wade. Pull the big lever now.'

With both hands, the boy pulls the lever. There it is: the sound of voting. The curtain opens. The boy smiles at an old woman leaving another booth and at a mother and daughter getting into line. He is not certain exactly what they have done. He only knows that he and his father have done something important. They have voted.

This scene takes place all over the country.

`Pull the lever, Yolanda.'

`Drop the ballot in the box for me, Pedro.'

Wades, Yolandas, Pedros, Nikitas, and Chuis all over the United States are learning the same lesson: the satisfaction, pride, importance, and habit of voting. I have always gone with my parents to vote. Sometimes lines are long. There are faces of old people and young people, voices of native North Carolinians in southern drawls and voices of naturalized citizens with their foreign accents. There are people in fancy clothes and others dressed in overalls. Each has exactly the same one vote. Each has exactly the same say in the election. There is no place in America where equality means as much as in the voting booth.

My father took me that day to the firehouse. Soon I will be voting. It is a responsibility and a right. It is also an exciting national experience. Voters have different backgrounds, dreams, and experiences, but that is the whole point of voting. Different voices are heard.

As I get close to the time I can register and vote, it is exciting. I become one of the voices. I know I will vote in every election. I know that someday I will bring my son with me and introduce him to one of the great American experiences: voting.

Wade Edwards, 16, is a junior at Broughton High School, the oldest high school in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has played on Broughton's soccer team, participated in student government and has been an editor on the yearbook staff. He is also a member of the Key Club, the Junior Classical League, and the Latin Honor Society. This year Wade was selected to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law and the Constitution. After school, he works as a messenger for a law firm. One of the accomplishments of which Wade is most proud was achieved outside of high school--last summer he successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, with his father and two friends.

[Page: S3346]


Raleigh.--Lucius Wade Edwards was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 18, 1979, the first child of John R. Edwards and Elizabeth Anania Edwards. He moved at two years old with his family to Raleigh. He moved into the house he calls home the day after his loving sister, Kate, was born. He chose the green room and quickly filled it with the imagination of a boy. In elementary school at Aldert Root, he made lasting friendships and, when his sister joined him, he was the perfect big brother, walking her home each day hand and hand. Wade played basketball at the Salvation Army, the YMCA, and the Jaycee Center. He played soccer for years with CASL, eventually on the Broncos coached by his father, and later on the Renegades. Wade attended middle school at Ligon for two years, where his poetry was published and he won a countrywide computing award, and at Daniels for one year. He really began to become a young adult when he started attending Broughton High School in 1993. He made the Junior Varsity Soccer team in his freshman and sophomore years. He joined various organizations, such as Junior Classical League, Key Club, and the yearbook staff, where he was organizations editor this year.

In the summer between Wade's sophomore and junior years in high school, Wade attended and completed the eighteen day Rocky Mountain Outward Bound program. Immediately after that, Wade and his father flew to Africa, where they met with close friends and together successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. It was the accomplishment of which he felt most proud.

In his junior year, Wade was invited to attend and did attend the four day National Youth Leadership Conference on Law and the Constitution in Washington, D.C. A short story he wrote based on his Outward Bound experiences was chosen for publication in Broughton's literary journal and won second place in the Raleigh Fine Arts Society competition for all Wake County eleventh graders. He wrote an essay on the topic What It Means To Be an American for the National Conversation Essay contest. He wrote about voting with his father. His essay was selected as one of the ten finalists nationwide. As a result, in March he was invited by the National Endowment for the Humanities and Voice of America to receive an award in Washington, D.C. During that visit, he had a personal audience with the First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton in the private quarters of the White House. With his father, mother, and sister watching, he received his award in the Indian Treaty Room. He recorded his essay for international broadcast over Voice of America.

Wade had a greater impact than his many achievements. He made many friends with his wide smile and easy way. He had a genuine sweetness and compassion that made his friends cherish him. He was always affectionate and loving with his family, which, in this time, gives great comfort. And in return he was well-loved in his home, in his school, and in his community.

In addition to his parents, Wade is survived by his sister, Kate, maternal grandparents, Vincent and Elizabeth Anania of Melbourne, Fla., paternal grandparents, Wallace and Catherine Edwards of Robbins, N.C.

Funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Edenton Street United Methodist Church.

The family will receive friends at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, St. Mary's Street from 7-9 p.m. Sunday. Burial will follow in Oakwood Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to a Memorial Fund at Broughton High School, St. Mary's Street, Raleigh, in Wade's name to be used to create a memorial befitting Wade's special gifts and contributions.