24 September 2016


by Andy Weddington
Saturday, 24 September 2016

In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This morning, in a hotel conference room, Admiral John Richardson, U. S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations, addressed a small group of his senior officers and their spouses.

I listened.

The conversation - a talk peppered with audience questions - was mostly about today's Navy, ongoing challenges solving alcohol abuse, and leading the social engineering changes being thrust upon our military. 

The admiral spoke about leadership. And character. And what those things are, mean, and how to go about assessing them. 

No new substance. Some new acronyms. 

It struck me ironic his remarks better suited for the civilian leadership. That a point he, and properly so, did not broach but was certainly noted and on the minds of all. How could it not?

I reflected on my short time in uniform and that, without fail, leading from the front and putting those led before self resolved practically all leadership "challenges."  

Three elemental - Longfellow's simplicity, if you will - but germane thoughts came to mind: 1) Leadership by example; 2) Character is courage; physical and moral; 3) Officers eat last.

I kept them to myself.  

The admiral casually walked in front of a simple platform with centered dais and decorated only with a flag posted stage right (left to audience).

From his words, before our flag, week past events came to mind.

More I thought about athletes, professional and not, before games opting to sit or take a knee or raise a fist instead of rendering proper respect to our flag. 

Images of the rioters (protestors not) and their baseless and senseless chaos in Charlotte, NC, returned.

In contrast, came images of coaches and other athletes speaking out for proper respect to our flag.

Too, police, National Guard, and civic leaders taking a stand to restore law and order and public safety. 

Mostly thoughts about our forward deployed, some in combat, trumped all. 

I sketched the flag and occasionally scanned the audience.

That piece of cloth along with those (representing centuries of service to country) in the room before it who have pledged allegiance are this week's winners - winners every week.

Some believe the others losers. But are they not really winners - for the fact winners tolerate, defend and protect them?

Only in America.     

Flag - sketch 1
4 x 2.5 in. ink

Flag - sketch 2
4 x 2.5 in. ink

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