Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rays of Sunlight

Struck by the dark tone of this blog, I thought I’d start to note now and then matters that please me as I learn of them—and thus hope to make “Rays of Sunlight” a recurring title in this account. The occasion today was Brigitte’s enthusiasm as she shared a story from the New York Times announcing the appointment, as NATO commander, of Admiral James G. Stavridis. The Admiral’s last posting was the Southern Command. The “area of focus” of this command, as the military dubs its geographical coverage, is the entirety of the South American subcontinent including portions of Central America. As the article states, the Admiral’s command of French was already excellent when he assumed that command in 2006, but he spoke no Spanish. The text continues thus:

Over the next three years, his fluency was measured not only in the high-level meetings he conducted in the native tongue of his military hosts. He also read the novels of Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel laureate from Colombia, in the original rich and lyrical Spanish. [NYT, June 30, 2009]

Terrific, we both thought. Admirable admiral! Brigitte and I both have extensive military experience—she as an employee and I as a soldier. We met in Germany because, in our respective jobs, we were coordinating various activities at a major military facility in Baumholder, an important artillery post and firing range, one of two, in Germany. We knew this institution from the inside, and, as insiders, we saw many things that were wrong, but, on balance, the military has always struck us as one of the stellar institutions of American life. There have always been, and, thank heaven, continue to be, outstanding figures like Admiral Stavridis, at every rank, by the way, not merely at the top. We saw back then, in the 1950s, how the Army—long before the Civil Rights Movement really got going—had completely integrated the races. The military could and did accomplish the job—without fuss and feathers. It is very pleasing to see that the tradition of excellence continues in its ranks.

1 comment:

  1. Nice. By all means, keep some rays of sunlight coming through!

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