Some memories never fade.
Circa 1982. Charlie Duff, a 4-star general retired, member of our Broadmoor Church in Colorado Springs, sat in my office.
Never met a kinder man, gracious, gentle, yet you would never miss the steel of his character. “Mark, I know you and I have different ‘takes’ on the Vietnam War. I respect that. I have a question, though, and I will be honored to do so. May I nominate you to attend the Army War College?”
Was a new school to me. Charlie explained each military had a War College. For the Army it was a year’s training of the most outstanding candidates to become General Officer. One school year, September to May. One week before the graduation, 50 men and women, one from each state, were invited to meet with the War College Students. It was a week of “non-attribution,” in which no War College Student would be kept from “speaking their heart.”
An honor I accepted with profound gratitude. So. For a week I was in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, meeting with 49 other state representatives. It provided the deepest possible information on “what is happening today” in the world arena.
Upon my return, Bill Greenfield, an Air Force General and member of Broadmoor Church, visited in my office. “Mark, I hope you enjoyed the Army War College. I’d like to nominate you for the Air Force War College in Montgomery, Alabama.” Oh, my.
A second week of discovery and appreciation and as candid discussions you could ever hope for.
Then. In 1987 I flew to Webster Groves, Missouri, to receive a Doctor of Ministry degree from Eden Theological Seminary. The specific training was in stewardship, with my doctoral paper, “Becoming Stewards,” written under the wonderful teaching of Doug Meeks. The deeper focus on the paper was “Why do people give with benevolence—what prompts that?”
As I processed with the other doctoral students and faculty up the center aisle, I almost fainted. Standing there, very much at attention, was Bob Dickman. Bob, then a Colonel, a member of Broadmoor Church, on his own, “wanted to be with my pastor in support.” Another oh, my.
Since then Bob has retired as a General. He and his wife, Barb, live in Virginia. Their son is now the Publicity Director for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The reality that I support the Broncos has not harmed our friendship.
Why write this? A run in hubris? A dash to say how highly I think of myself? [The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think.”] Has humility fled forever?
To some, that may be best response.
No, I write this because I do not believe any of us can ever overstate our support of the military. No one.
Oh, some, including the highest in our nation, might delight in the blame game. But. Hopefully none of you does.
I am simply sharing how much I appreciate public servants like General Mattis and hopefully General McMaster. And even more, the Charlie’s and Bill’s [God rest their souls] and the Bob’s and the Jennifer’s [my wonderful daughter-in-law who serves as attorney for the military and has a Pentagon office.] and the ways in which our nation is the better for their efforts.
Thanks for reading to this point. I hope fervently that humility hasn’t left stage right.