I just had the good fortune to have been invited by Stewart Vanderwilt to a lunch presentation by General Montgomery Meigs. He is a retired Army general, twice commander of US troops in Bosnia during that war and most recently head of the IED device defense analysis team during our current deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He spoke on the threats that face the United States in 2010, the first of which was the economy and particularly our thirst for debt without a plan to retire the debt, both as a country and as individuals. And that was just the first threat.
A Meigs has been in West Point and in the United States military from every generation since West Point was founded by President Thomas Jefferson. The namesake of this General Meigs, his great-grandfather, completed construction of the United States capitol and then served as the quartermaster for the Union during the Civil War. His son, a twenty-one year old lieutenant, killed at Swift Run Gap, Virginia, was the first person to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
This General Meigs also was a Fellow at MIT and has a Ph.D. from Wisconsin. He has been on faculty at West Point, University of Texas LBJ School of Public Policy, and currently at Georgetown University. His belief? As polarized as the US public is, as difficult as the economy is and as frightening as the threats from terror, diplomacy, and infrastructure to the United States may be, we are a people who are creative problem solvers and who come together for the common good.
My belief: People like General Meigs prove that service to our country is a privilege and a blessing. What a public servant! I can only say that all who serve, including many who served because they were drafted, find that giving to our country for a year or two pays itself back over and over with the special bond you feel for the well-being of the nation. Giving is better than taking.
Stewart — thank you for inviting me. Jack