Thursday, May 05, 2005

Colonel David Hackworth died today

I first heard of Col. Hackworth upon the publcation of ABOUT FACE, his fascinating autobiography. I knew it was something I wanted to read. My father also wanted to read it, so in a bit of self-serving filial piety, I bought him a copy for Father's Day. He doesn't read much, and doesn't keep books so I knew once he was done with it, he would be happy to dump it on me. I looked at it as a win-win situation. And I thank Col. Hackworth for giving my father and me one more thing to share.

As much as I enjoyed reading the book, and learning his insights into war and fighting, the thing that struck me was his condemnation of the career brass who have no function except their own advancment. The way he described these military bureaucrats reminded me of the educational establishment of which, being a teacher, I am at the bottom of. Excellence is discouraged. Keeping the status quo intact is rewarded, and CYA is the order of the day. I meant to write him a letter about that, but I never did. You're not interested in my excuses.

I followed his columns in Newsweek. I remember in the aftermath of Sept. 11, one of the TV stations was about to interview him over the phone. They tried to put him on hold in favor of Hillary Clinton who they had just gotten ahold of. He hung up and I changed channels. I picked up a copy of his HAZARDOUS DUTY in hardcover at a garage sale for a quarter last summer. I'll be reading it soon.

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