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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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Me and the General

Me and the General

In our present era, “hero” has unfortunately been applied to millionaire sports figures who hit the winning home run, dunked the ball to win the playoff, or made a great play to win a football game. I label an exceptional act of bravery, someone willing to stand up and do the right thing when most others are mute, or a self-sacrificing person as people to be affixed the label “hero.” May I add that an overachiever who began from modest origins also fits the bill?

Such a man is my hero, Colin Powell, and here begins my tale. Most people don’t know that Secretary Powell was not a West Point graduate but an ROTC graduate from the City College of New York (CCNY). When he was a senior there, I was a freshman and enrolled in the same ROTC program. Incidentally, that school is located in central Harlem in Manhattan.

I had graduated from a technical high school along with 18 others from that school who also began engineering studies at CCNY. At the time, CCNY was rated the fourth-best engineering college in the United States. It utilized a very difficult curriculum, so much so that all 19 of us dropped that course of study after two years, with me being the last to leave. 

Now “quitting” was something that bothered me for decades. Until I read Secretary Powell’s biography in the mid-nineties, and the “bother” was lifted. Alas, he too began his studies in engineering and, in his honesty, admitted he couldn’t handle it and subsequently transferred into the Geology program. 

I transferred into business and graduated with a BBA. That’s just the first similarity. He eventually graduated with a “C”(a 2.0) average, as did I. His parents were immigrants, as were mine. They insisted he get an education, so did mine. They were great, hard-working people, as were mine. There the similarities end. 

I had two opportunities for a career as a military officer, the first of course in the Army. The second, being offered flight school when I was in the Marine Corps. I opted not to, but Colin Powell did, and the rest is history. First, rising to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then becoming Secretary of State. From being the son of immigrants.

  As the featured speaker at the High Point University graduation several years ago, he stated,” it’s not where you start in life.” America provides young people of all backgrounds the opportunity to succeed if they learn and work hard. Enough said.

Oh, but there’s one more thing. There had been some talk of his running for president, but the rumor mill said his wife nixed it. Talk at the time was that he could have run as a candidate for each major party. I don’t claim these rumors as being factual, so who knows the truth.

I often wonder where we’d be had this honest, overachieving, bright gentleman been elected president.

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