An Extraordinary Man
He is an extraordinary man who has lived an extraordinary life, but he would be the last one to say so. I think the thing which strikes me, above all, is his modesty. Words like duty and service often seem outmoded or are used for effect by public figures such as politicians. This man, however, uses them as naturally as breathing and with no intent to impress or score points. They are his watchwords and his motto in life and he personifies qualities which are rarely seen in today's world.
He has been through trauma in his personal life and in service to his country. He has experienced the accidental death of a loved one – a child, no less and it is no exaggeration to say he himself has nearly lost his life for this country. Yet he continued, when many others would have felt justified in taking an easier path.
He has sacrificed more than many in order to serve. For many years he also put duty before personal happiness. A colleague came to mean much more, but circumstances prevented any relationship developing beyond the boundaries of propriety. She was a subordinate as well as being younger and anything more than professional could have meant the end of both their careers. At the least, a young, beautiful blonde becoming personally involved with a man over ten years her senior who also happened to be her boss would have been vilified by jealous colleagues and pilloried by the press. He sought to protect her and their relationship continued to be merely professional for many years. Circumstances do, however, invariably change and so it was that promotions and a change of career path led to them becoming more equal and having different bosses. It is gratifying to be able to say that they were then able to commence a personal relationship.
Now that he is retired, his wife possibly looks set to eclipse him, but, when you meet them, you cannot fail to see the pride with which he speaks of her intelligence, her warmth and her meteoric rise to success. Her accomplishments are many and yet she too demonstrates a remarkable modesty and is happier to tell you that since his retirement he has frequently been called back to serve as a special adviser to the President rather than discuss her own contributions to the White House.
People such as these are all too rare and, I fear, not always valued as they should be. They have devoted a large portion of their lives to the service of their country, yet do so out of the glare of publicity and the self-aggrandisement common in the political world. It is only now that articles such as this can be written and we can appreciate more fully the tremendous sacrifices demanded of those who truly put duty before personal gain and to whom service to your country is the highest honour.