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My Father

 

 

 

 

There is little I can or need to say about Robert E. Lee. His life was a testament to service, duty, honesty, humility, confidence and ambition that is impossible to find within anyone else. The fact that he is arguably America's greatest military leader is almost a footnote when Lee is considered for his life as a man. I feel lucky that I was able to study at the institution that bears his mark and helps perpetuate his legacies. He was a paramount person, an archetype of what a man should be to his family, his heritage, his world, his beliefs, his country and his future. "Duty and Honor" were not concepts to Robert E. Lee, but a way of life ~ in this he was an example to those of us who understand and continually strive to achieve. The fact that he was aggressive and audacious rather than an analyst is further testimony to his greatness.

Mario Camilotto works in the Cinelli factory owned by the Columbus Steel Company in Milan, Italy. He built my beloved white Cinelli. He builds all the Cinelli Super-Corsa frames ~ every one ~ and has since the company was sold to Columbus in 1984. His products are the fusion of technical excellence and beauty, all because he does his job. There must be much of him in them …
 

Cino Cinelli and Ernesto Colnago build the world's best road racing bicycles. Both were racers of little renown but thinkers and designers of high potential. Both built companies who have pushed the technical boundaries of the machinery beyond what "engineers" have done. Both companies, Cinelli and Colnago, have pioneered new designs, concepts and materials that have made a difference in the sport. Neither man has a formal education and neither man let the experts design their bicycles or run their companies. Both are tributes to those that pedal and push for speed.

Robert Graves redefined the "war novel." Following and expanding (perhaps unwittingly) Stephen Crane's the Red Badge of Courage, Graves' Good Bye to All That spoke not only to his generation about what WWI had been like, but speaks to generations to come about war and honor. His novel / memoir speaks of duty, patriotism and the unavoidability yet absurdity of being a soldier and describes what we, who have been through some of this, know. His subsequent writing, both Novels and Poetry were incredible examples of where the muse can take a literary figure. His life and his written words move me to a higher understanding of our world, the role of men in warfare and the on-going struggle between men and women.

Greg Lemond is a man who showed the world what the power of will, perseverance and raw talent can do without sacrificing ethics or demeanor. He was the first great American bicyclist of our age (no apologies to John Boyer) and showed those of us in the US that we could meet and be as good as the best of the Europeans. He gave credibility to our sport - he even had the cover of a Sports Illustrated magazine. After a near fatal shooting accident, he struggled for years before wining the Tour de France by an amazing 8 seconds. That 1989 tour, with its incredible final time trial still brings tears to my eyes. All from a man who wore his wedding ring on the bike and never lost his composure in the Peloton.

Erich Remarque wrote Im Westen nicht Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front). Instead of the ordinary war memoir, he, with Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon, told of the intellectual and emotional reaction to being in WWI or any war. His following books, Drei Kameraden, and Arc D'Triumph, spoke of not only the lost generation of war survivors, but the demands of friendship and romance. He eventually found his way to Hollywood as a screenwriter and an American citizen. His novels are all beautiful descriptions of romantic and compelling stories. He was a writer who awoke the world.

Sigfried Sassoon wrote Diary of a Fox-Hunting Man. He is the third of my trinity of war novelists of the First World War. The war shattered him more than Graves or Remarque, but his novels speaks of the joy of life, the inevitability of duty and honor and the horror of living within the military machine. I look at him as the progenitor to Joseph Heller. It was to him, or rather his pseudonym - George Shearston, that I dedicated my first novel.

 

Thomas Watson, Jr. built the finest American corporation in history: The International Business Machines Company. His principles guided it in its road to incredible achievement and success. Respect for the individual was the most important legacy to the company although it was, unfortunately, discarded by his latest successor in the name of profit. His belief in technology, computers to be specific, motivated him to unseat his father as Chairman and guide the company to its zenith. Not content with commercial success, he was Jimmy Carter's ambassador to the Soviet Union after his departure from the company. He was a businessman who had wisdom, foresight, honesty, and a focus that is almost impossible to find in our country today. I was proud to be in his company.
 

One additional hero needs to be noted. Lauren Hollinger (nee Schneider) is a true hero to me. She has provided me with love, companionship and support over the length of our relationship. It is she, the real person, who has been an inspiration to me as we face the uncertain future together.

   

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