Friday, January 30, 2009

It's Rented, But Still.

What a treat to find a transcript of my MC remarks at the Nixon Center's Jan. 12 dinner in Washington in honor of Mike Mullen, chairman of of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After spending 20 minutes getting the assembled elites to take their seats (I do believe this task is the main reason my brilliant but introverted Russian brother Dimitri Simes invites me each year), I find I said this:

We are living in a time of change and tumult. In not too many days, we will celebrate a peaceful change. For many, although not all, a welcome change, but all Americans celebrate a peaceful change. And we've had a whole election year in which change has been the mantra.

But there is another word that begins with "c," and that is continuity. Consistency. We honor today someone who was commissioned in the United States Navy forty years ago last year, in the tumultuous year of 1968, when he graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis and received his first commission.

In case you're counting, that means he has already served eight presidents of the United States, eight Commanders-in-Chief, beginning with Lyndon Johnson, and he has experienced the disappointment and, according to many, the tragedy of America's failure in Vietnam, which many say was as much a political failure as any other kind. He has experienced the clarity of the West's victory in the Cold War, and now he is a vital part of the malleable and front-changing war on terrorism.

And throughout that entire era, which encompasses so many different aspects of our lives as Americans, so many different kinds of conflict, he has provided expertise and sanity and consistency and brilliance in his work and service to, soon, nine Commanders-in-Chief and to all of us.

And if you guessed the main reason for this post is to display the photo, you're right. Someone said every man looks great in a tux, and I need all the help I can get.


David R. Stokes said...

Great remarks, wonderful evening, and nice Tux :-) -- David (did any of the pix of us come out? - I wanted to see how good Karen looked :-)) -

Fr. John said...

Dear David: Thanks, friend. Pics are still in my camera. I'll get them to you soon. You guys looked great! Blessings. JT