Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The things you find on Google...

I was googling around the other day, looking up some people I used to know, and I came across this page from the University of North Carolina website, about foreign service careers.

The reason, of course, is that I knew some of the people who appear on this page. It's a sort of mini-bio of several State department and foreign service types, and it's interesting in its way.

But in the bio of one of the people I do not know appears this, as an explanation of how he came to serve in the Army during the Korean war. He seemed at first to have made a sensible and calculating decision to use the GI bill to pay for his remaining education after his military service was complete, but he also felt the need to include this-- and it's in parentheses, as an aside--

(Having been a teenager during WWII, I must admit that there was a lingering sense that joining was also the patriotic thing to do.)

The operative word here is "was". Clearly he no longer feels that joining the army is a patriotic thing to do. And in 1950, it was already a 'lingering sense', as in something that has outlived its time and will soon be forgotten. And doesn't "I must admit" sound like an apology for the fact that he joined the army out of patriotic feelings?

And so I offer you this accidental discovery, a self-admission in a mini-autobiography by a foreign service guy who seemed to feel the need to excuse himself to his fellow FS types for having had a military background. He makes sure to imply that nobody would expect anyone to feel that way today, let alone to act on those feelings.

Further down, in a piece by a man I do know and have played lots of golf with (and whom I personally admire), is a remembrance by him of his acceptance into foreign service-- that his class, 1964, was the first ever in which Ivy League schools did not produce a majority of the new FS staffers.

His school? UC Berkeley.

p.s. It has come to my attention that he is at present dealing with some personal medical difficulties, and if he happens to read this (unlikely), I want him to know that we old 'private sector foreign service' guys are thinking about him and sending prayers his way.

He is a hell of a golfer and a very nice and thoughtful guy. Good company in any group, an ability that is doubtless a qualification for FS but is also indicative of who he is as a person.

He's one of the good ones.

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