I recently read this in Rudolph Giuliani’s book, Leadership:
Until the World Trade Center attacks made it impossible, I attended the funeral of everyone who died in the line of duty in New York City. Being there not only showed people how important their loved one was, but had a reverberating effect, underlining the importance of survivors as well. It’s a lesson I learned from my father, who defined himself by helping people when they needed him the most. He used to take me with him to wakes and funerals when I was a little boy, and I sensed how much it meant to our neighbors and friends that he made the effort. My father drilled the message into me with his trademark tenacity: weddings are discretionary; funerals are mandatory.
The next paragraph concludes:
But when the chips are down- when someone you care about is struggling for answers or burying a loved one – that’s when the measure of a leader is taken.
I couldn’t agree more, and I guess that is why I was struck by this recent letter to editor of the Albuquerque Journal (subscription):
I ATTENDED the funeral for Sgt. Marshall Westbrook, who was killed while serving in Iraq. Gov. Bill Richardson was a “no show.” It is an insult to Westbrook that his state commander in chief could not sacrifice just a few hours to attend the funeral of the first New Mexico guardsman killed since Vietnam.
However, the governor can make it to a Sean Hannity book signing at the Winrock Mall and cut to the front of the line to get an autograph or fly across the Pacific to North Korea for a pony show. Since Westbrook’s honorable service and death do not help Richardson’s political agenda, I guess we know why he wasn’t there.
ROBERT A. GARCIA JR.
When evaluating the priorities of our leaders, nothing speaks louder than their actions. Granted, Governor Richardson introduced and signed legislation that awarded a $250,000 life insurance policy to guard members; however, when it came time to demonstrate his personal commitment to honoring Sgt. Marshall Westbrook, he fell short.