The Pivot Point

January 20, 2009

Today the world feels different… somehow changed. The feeling of the air that surrounds us is somehow clearer, cleaner. Today’s events and their implications humble us all.

Colin Powell told the audience watching the news this morning about his entry into the US Army over 50 years ago, shortly after the integration of the military. When he left New York to drive to his assignment in Fort Benning, Georgia, he drove. South of Baltimore, he had only one option for lodging for the remainder of the trip, a motel in South Carolina. He wasn’t welcome anywhere else. This was less than a lifetime ago.

One of my new classes this quarter is Thomas Jefferson’s Reading Seminar, which is a class that focuses on readings centered around the life and times of the founder of the University of Virginia and his compatriots. Reading seminars involve a lot of… well… reading. In anticipation of the challening volume of pages, I began reading the books over winter break. I find myself intrigued by the early political divisions of the new nation, among those who we generalize today as patriots and heros of the revolution. The founders of this nation did not agree on everything, and in fact significant disagreement on the direction of the union existed, particularly between the Federalist and Republican parties. I find myself even at odds ideologically with TJ at times, much to my surprise, though the full contribution of the man and his impact on our daily lives certainly overwhelm any reservations I have about the positions he took.

The greatest appreciation I’ve gained from the reading so far (keeping in mind that we actually don’t have our first class meeting until tomorrow) is that our union was once fragile, and remained imperfect (the failure to resolve slavery is a clear example)… and though our union is now stronger, it is clear that imperfection persists. Maybe that’s why we have healthy and fundamental disagreements.

Regardless of one’s politics, one cannot fail to be impressed by the magnitude of what we as a nation and a world collectively accomplished and witnessed today. We must also maintain a healthy regard for the challenges that remain ahead… but I am confident that we can overcome.

Indeed, we can.

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One Response to “The Pivot Point”

  1. Rick Knightly said

    Mike,

    I just wanted to thank you for publishing this blog. I am currently stationed in Afghanistan and have been to Iraq. I too am a Field Artillery Officer in the Army, but have found myself spending only 3 of my 22 months deployed to both fronts doing actual FA. The remaining has been convoy security escort and now the present maneuver cdr and district cdr. I can relate to a great deal of you experiences and am currently entering the tail end of my application process with interviews and awaiting decisions. I have UVA tomorrow over the phone as you did and came across your blog as I was finishing my prep and read it back to front. It is truly great stuff and helped give me the perspective of what life is really like for someone of a similar background (I am a ROTC guy too out of Providence College) Unlike you, I actually am entering school with the plan to pursue a consulting position in management/strategy. I wish I had come across this blog earlier, as I would have hit you up for some advice as I navigated the process. I have applied to a total of 7 schools with one acceptance and 6 TBDs. If you are available after I hear decisions for some additional advice or maybe during a visit, that I will plan on making after redeployment in a month or so, I would enjoy interacting with you. Good luck with your final quarters.

    Best,

    Rick

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