Thursday, April 3, 2008

309. An Open America

General Colin Powell receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Wilson Reagan.

I have just left the Kentucky Convention Center in downtown Louisville where tonight the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana (http://www.wacaky-in.org) had as its guest speaker former United States Secretary of State General Colin Powell. Secretary Powell spoke for about an hour in a very comfortable style to the several hundred of us seated in the audience, giving us a little history about himself, and offering insights into some of the world playing fields on which he has had the opportunity to serve the United States, both in the field of the military as well as that of diplomacy. He indicated that diplomacy is the better of the two in solving the problems of the world. More than once he anecdotally referred to immigrants who had come to America to find a better life, including his own parents, of Jamaican heritage, who arrived in Brooklyn eighty-one years ago. He affirmed his belief that America is a safer place due to safeguards put in place after September 11, but offered that he spoke to the president not long after those events, warning him that America seemed to be putting up the "Not Welcome" sign at our front doors, turning away especially students whose time in America may have lead to a better future for either their country of origin, or if they stayed here for our our sovereign land, and that he felt and still believes that is wrong, as do I. He spoke of several foreign leaders to whom he referred as personal friends, telling of how they each arrived where they were in the diplomatic intercourses which have changed the political face of the earth over the last twenty years, especially his dealings with former Soviet President Michael Gorbachev while he served under President Ronald Reagan. He went on to talk, at length, about education, economics, and the ascension - an opening up - of democracies and peace throughout most of the world. He spoke especially of Africa, India, China, and Japan, and then of our own Western Hemisphere where only Cuba remains as an anomaly. He spoke affectionately of France, saying America and France had been in a marriage for 230 years, albeit one which now and then needed marriage counselling. Whether or not he was aware that the naming of our town here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 was inspired by LaFayette's help for America by France in the Revolution he did not make clear, although he did reference it. (By extension, even the name of this blog is French inspired). An additional by-the-way, he referred to Louisville [correctly] as a "town" and not as the 16th Largest City in America, a title erroneously bestowed upon it by the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro, who was in attendance to here the General refer to our town). He spoke mostly of openness, openness for opportunities not only for the people of America, but for those outside of America who look to us as a beacon and leader. It was a thoroughly enjoyable speech.

I was given tickets to the speech by my friends David and Mary Pat Sexton. I work with David in the County Attorney's Office and I have known his wife Mary Pat since college. Thanks to both of them for this educational opportunity.

1 comment:

Paul Hosse said...

Colin Powell is one of a small handful of public officals that I would call "A man of honor". Good article Jeff.

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Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Single, male, bald, overweight, early 50s, seeking . . . Oh wait, that's goes on the other website. How about this - never married, liberal Democrat, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.