Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Colin Powell Speaks at Loyola University

Loyola University of Maryland, formerly Loyola College in Maryland, started a lecture series this year made possible by a donation by Ellen and Ed Hanway.  The first speaker was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which I was unable to attend.  The second speaker in the series was tonight and it was former Secretary of State General Colin L. Powell.

The speaking event was only the second time I had been on the Evergreen campus since I graduated from Loyola with my M.B.A. in 2000.  Technically I finished my last class in 1999, but there is no mid-year graduation.  Additionally, of the ten classes that I took to get my M.B.A., only two were at the Evergreen campus.  The remainder were at the Timonium campus and the original Columbia site.  I wouldn't call it a campus as it was a couple of rooms in an office building.  And if you were wondering how the college girls look on campus these days, yeah, they still look very nice.

I got to the campus just after 5pm.  The doors opened at 5:30, so I grabbed some sushi and a Diet Coke, and read some of my current book, The Sea is My Brother by Jack Kerouac.  I went into the theater just after 5:30 pm and got a seat in the 10th row.  This was my view of the Ravens' purple lit stage.

After Loyola President Reverend Brian Linnane took the stage, they changed the colors to Loyola green.  I'm not sure exactly how to refer to the speaker.  He is identified as General Colin L. Powell USA (Ret.) in the program.  However, he could also be identified as former Secretary of State, former Joint Chief of Staff, Four Star General Colin L. Powell USA (Ret.).

General Powell takes the stage to the applause of a boisterous crowd.

General Powell was a great speaker.  Not sure if he writes his own speeches or if he has a great speech writer.  He was very charismatic, filling his speech with humorous anecdotes and poignant stories of overcoming adversities in life.  The General barely made it though school, but with the support of the ROTC, and a highly motivated career in the military, he was able become one of the most, if not the most successful African American to ever come out of the United States Army.

General Powell talked about his quasi-retirement.  Suddenly his limo was gone.  His plane was gone.  His bodyguards were gone.  He said he told his wife that it was going to be wonderful to be home with her every day.  He said she basically gave a 'what the hell' kind of response.  He then went out and got a Corvette.  Needless to say, he got a lot of laughs from the crowd.

General Powell also briefly touched on our current political state in this country.  He said universal healthcare makes sense.  He agrees that what Obama is trying to implement is broken, but we need to fix it and make it work.  There is no getting rid of it.  There are too many people, especially children, without healthcare in this country.  He also said that the infighting in Congress is way out of hand.  In years past, Congress was able to negotiate and compromise.  That spirit of compromise seems to be dead and the fringes of each party are controlling their parties and sticking absolutely to their principals.

As a former Secretary of State, General Powell certainly had his opinions on world affairs, though he admitted that he follows them a lot less today.  He talked of the Arab spring, which seems to be in its third (?) year now.  The foundations for democracy in the Middle East have been laid and we need to allow the citizens of those countries determine what form of democracy works for them.  He admitted that the invasion of Iraq was made with bad information, though he maintains that he has been open about this for a while.  He also said that China is not our enemy.  China and India are possibly the only two countries with the capability of superseding the United States as the world power, and both of those countries are investing in the economy and their people and the United States is key to their growth.

Many of the students sitting around me were taking notes on laptops during the speech.  I wish I would have thought to do that.  I possibly would have remembered more of it.  Regardless, I am happy that I attended and got to listen to this great figure of our generation.  And I wish I would have been able to bring in a real camera. Unfortunately, no real cameras allowed.

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