Saturday, February 16, 2008

Condi Rice & David Milliband

I’ve not met lots of famous people. I have met a few, some interesting, some not – mostly musical in nature. I have not gone out of my way to meet people – especially famous people, as that fame thing does not really appeal to me. I would much rather spend time with my family or friends, rather than go hunting for folks. When I was in LA, I didn’t meet anyone famous – and certainly felt like the trip was still fun & worthwhile. I did ‘run into’ (i.e. stand next to) from the bands Styx and Damn Yankees. He looked like I felt after flying for 10 hours – so I didn’t bother him.

Anyway, I’ve always thought that Condoleezza Rice came off as a fairly straightforward person; at least she appears that way. Very knowledgeable – she’s a PhD – and seems like a person of substance and of some moral standards. When I heard that she may be coming on a VIP visit to HQ ISAF, I thought it would be interesting to see what she has to say, so I found out about the when’s & where’s and arranged to get there. This was kind of a last minute thing – as the security around the travel arrangements of important folks in the AOR is often pretty tight – so we didn’t hear until the day of. We were told to be at the gymnasium (the best place, really – for a large gathering) so we showed up at the appointed time only to be told there was a delay, to return later (about and hour and a half). So we did. The gym is actually pretty close to the shop, so no biggie. When we returned, there were many rumors about what was to happen, but not much organization. We stood around for a bit – maybe a half hour, and then the base Sergeant Major (the senior enlisted for the entire compound) has us form up into a couple of formations. He then explains about what is to happen – Mr. Milliband and Ms. Rice will enter, give a short talk, and then be on their way. We should not try to get autographs, as they are on a tight schedule, and please show military bearing, yada yada yada. Okay, so we were going to be a bit military – that’s understandable. We were then told that they were about 20 minutes out. Okay, so we stayed loosely in formation – haven been given the ‘at ease’ command, so we talked a bit, milled about. This went on for about 45 minutes, til we were told they were 5 minutes out. Given the recent math – we figured we had about a half hour. Forty-five minutes later we were again formed up, and then an additional fifteen minutes, and we were called to attention, and saw the cameras light up as the procession came into the room.

I’ve never met a royal – but the first word that came to mind was regal. Ms. Rice looked confident, self-assured, and calm. I’ve seen her walk on CNN or Foxnews before, so recognized her from that. Then she began to talk. She was very proud of us – and wanted to thank us for our service, our commitment, and she did it in such a way that was very sincere. I’ve seen political speeches – who can miss them nowadays – but this was no political speech. This was a heartfelt thank you.

After the speeches, eash person went to an opposite side of the room to talk with us, the troops. There were many nations represented here – I stopped trying to count, but the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, UK & US of course, but many others as well; and every branch of service was represented as well. Given the warnings from the sergeant major, most folks just kept in their places as they came by – until one particular lieutenant. Now, he works with us – and I’d heard he was going to do this – but when he did – well, everything changed. He unzipped his flight suit to reveal a t-shirt underneath with the words – I Condi – written across his chest – and he asked if she would mind signing his shirt. She immediately broke out into a very genuine smile. Ear to ear. That was the key. Everyone broke away from where they were to get a look – and a photo. :) The news cameras were actually running to get it on film. I heard that it made CNN – but never did see it myself.

Since the proverbial ice was broken, everyone started to crowd – just a bit – and Condoleezza Rice moved around the room – talking to every single person, shaking hands, saying “Thank you for your service” – and stopping for anyone that had a camera. She seemed very genuine – and very nice.

If she were running for office – I’d vote for her in a heartbeat.

1 comment:

  1. Sweet deal getting to meet Condoleezza Rice (seriously is that how you spell her first that's long)...great to get a chance to see what's going on with you...can't wait to have you back here!