on my part meant the deletion of the photo credit due on this shot. This and
the entire 2006 In Memoriam Gallery. I couldn't regret a professional error
more - because this photo in particular reflects the heart of Marines
Everything I need to know about Pete
Pace I can learn from a picture. Although I'd like to know more, I know very
little of this outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman. I don't know his wife's first name. I
don't know how many, if any, children he has. Yet through the media I know
one very important thing about him. His behavior publicly accurately
reflects the private behavior of many, if not most, United States Marines.
The American Heritage Dictionary states
that an icon is, "an important and enduring symbol."
This photo comes to mind first when I
think of Pace. I was struck by the General's clenched jaw. The force
obviously required to contain his tears as he comforts this child of a
fallen Marine. His arm around the back of the child's chair - at the ready
for a hug or or rub. The massive quantity of braiding, brass and medals seem
to pull like ballast on a fragile vessel trying to be the strong one rather
than lift his posture as such obvious achievements should.
These are the standard behaviors of the
Marines I have read repeatedly about - and known.
They take patriotism to a level of
sacrifice leading to victory - and sometimes recognition.
They wear a pristine uniform and do so
with swollen chests and fierce expressions.
They melt at the needs of the
defenseless, crying - pouring tears when death and injury and heartbreak
General Pace has used his position to
the desire of God, I'm sure.
In the hundreds of shots I've seen
published of him, not once has he appeared to look down his nose at anyone.
In the many press conferences I've observed not once has he become defensive
at the confrontational questions hurled at him.
He talks openly about how his rage at a
young Marine's death from a sniper shot caused him to call in an air strike
on a village used as the sniper's lair - only to know his error via eye
contact with a junior Marine immediately afterward. Rather than justify
himself, he called off the strike - later learning only women and children
remained where the sniper had been.
What kind of person, in the depths of
grief forfeits their pride and rage to do the right thing? Your average,
ordinary, extraordinary Marine. Even so - this is only one of many, many
heroic facets of these individuals.
This is what Pete Pace
brought to the American public. It is not so important because it reflects
the General himself. It is important because it reflects the thousands and
thousands of Marines who surround and defend us everyday.
Meriwether Ball, Editor/CEO