Throughout my life and career, anything I may have achieved can be attributed to lessons instilled in me by my teachers – from kindergarten all the way through college. From the pre-med and accounting professors who gently convinced me those fields were not a good fit for me, to the journalism professors who welcomed me, and taught me how to gather facts, organize and present my thoughts.
Like you, my emotions have run the gamut over the last week – from deep concern over Harvey and its effects, to great pride in the first responders and everyday citizens who have rushed to the aid of their fellow Texans. In the midst of this tragedy, we have shown why Texas is special and how Americans from all walks of life can come together to help one another. It is truly, truly inspiring!
When my seventh grade teacher assigned an essay on a “prominent individual,” there was just one person I had in mind, a man whose work I had admired since my family’s days living in France. The only problem: my teacher had never heard of him. Hard as it is to believe today, few Americans in the mid-1960s – not even my teachers – knew about the great scientist, author, and undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau.
The summer of 1974, between my freshman and sophomore years at UT, was one of the most memorable and formative times of my life.
As a budding officer in the Navy ROTC program, I was sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for what was euphemistically called a "cruise." My fellow midshipmen and I lived and worked alongside enlisted men for nine weeks. The work we did – chipping paint, cleaning heads (Navy term for bathroom) – was anything but glamorous. But it was highly educational.
Since I’m writing this on July 3rd, let me be among the first to wish you a happy Independence Day. Tomorrow we celebrate the grand, ongoing experiment that is the United States of America and honor the founders who pledged their lives, fortunes, and “sacred honor” to set the experiment in motion 241 years ago.