Saturday, October 22, 2005
Madam Secretary Rice and Mr. Secretary Straw
Wow. Today has been most wonderful. I was blessed to see Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw deliver the Frank A. Nix lecture at The University of Alabama today, courtesy of the Blackburn Institute on campus. The lectures are usually private, reserved only for the fellows of the Blackburn Institute, but due to the nature of this lecture, it was generously made open to the public.
Because the room only holds about 1600 people, and 400 of the seats were already reserved, I decided to get to the conference center early to stand in line. I awoke around 7:00 am, and I was at the conference center by 8:05. There were already about 50 people in front of me. By 9:15 the line was stretched all the way around the building, so that I couldn't see the end. We began to go inside around 9:45. There was a metal detector at the door, and policemen and secret service were everywhere! I sat on the 3rd or 4th row behind the reserved seats. (Not too shabby, I thought!)
Dr. Rice gave an excellent speech, relating events to the crowd very well. She made connections that we would understand and sympathize with. She related the Civil Rights movement, and the black struggle for freedom with the Iraqi struggle for freedom, and the fight for democracy. One of her most used phrases was "impatient patriots." I agreed with most of what she said, and there were only one or two places where my ear perked up, and I questioned something...but, I can't even remember what they were now. I chuckled, though, when the question and answer session arrived. No matter what the question, she found a way to relate it to the fight for freedom and democracy. Politicians...
Secretary Straw was also fascinating to hear. Besides his cool accent, he also garnered more laughs than did Secretary Rice. But, he also had more "umms", so his speech went slightly longer. He discussed the need to make politics local, no matter what office you hold. Even as Foreign Secretary or Secretary of State, one must consider and remember the local man, the common man.
At the end, Coach Mike Shula entered the room and presented Dr. Rice and Mr. Straw a football. When he entered, he received a standing ovation from many. I, for one, did not stand. We had given Secretaries Rice and Straw standing ovations, and rightly so, but...our football coach??? He receives one every Saturday to a much larger crowd. I just saw no comparison, and therefore no need to stand.
Aaaahh. The chance to hear speakers of such high caliber as Dr. Rice and Mr. Straw (for free, I might add), is something only a university can offer. I am so thankful that I can particpate in these activities, and experience these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
I have attached a link to the whole lecture below, if you are interested. :-)
Frank A. Nix Lecture - Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Sec. Jack Straw