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David Petraeus

Strategic Military Leadership

When you raise your right hand and take the oath on the plain at West Point -- noting that that's pretty quickly dispelled and you get into the normal routine -- Groundhog Day sets in pretty quickly. It does in any profession. Perhaps for those -- the delegates at an Academy event -- I used to note on occasion that even in the loftiest of positions -- I mean, you could be the commander of the surge, a commander of Central Com, the Director of the CIA -- there is a Groundhog Day syndrome that does set in. It doesn't matter how high you are, you start to get into this, "Man, today is going to be just like yesterday, and tomorrow looks like it's going to be as well." Maybe different Congressional visitors, different press, different activities. In truth, it's not, but you get into that. Particularly, frankly, in military and combat, because you're going seven days a week. There's very little time of your own at all. You read a couple of pages of a book each night before you fall asleep with the light still on. So it's important, I think. I used to say that when this happens to you -- the people with whom I was privileged to serve at the time or whatever -- occasionally, you want to go on up to 30,000 feet and do a little out-of-body experience and look down at what you're doing, and look down at the endeavor in which you're playing a part, and realize how special that is. What a privilege that is to be serving a cause larger than self, a mission that really is important, not just to our country but to all of the coalition countries. And then get on back down and go to work.
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David Petraeus

Strategic Military Leadership

I asked myself if I really had a calling to be a doctor or not, and I actually couldn't answer in the affirmative, so I decided maybe I shouldn't do that, because there's a huge commitment attached to it. I thought it would be difficult if you actually get into it then and say, "Geez, why did I do this?" It was just because it was the highest mountain to climb academically. So I sort of had the peak in sight, but then I decided to seek the infantry and I enjoyed it very much. Again, there was an interesting mix. I always found in the Army, in fact, a very interesting mix between the intellectual and the physical. The infantry clearly had both of those. You can be literally out under a rucksack in field conditions one year, and you're at graduate school at Princeton University the next. Or you're writing speeches for the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO one year, and the next year you're the Operations Officer for an infantry battalion right on the Iron Curtain. So I loved that mix back and forth and found it very, very stimulating.
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Sidney Poitier

Oscar for Best Actor

It was pretty much how I am. And what it meant to me to receive the award for it, it meant a great deal to me. It was the first time for an African American. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the experience, because what he was doing -- the character mind you -- what he was doing was exhibiting a vast sense of himself, and the wonders of being alive, and the wonders of being a human being, and the responsibilities of a human being. And here he is vortexing with some of the most loveable characters. And for that I got an award.
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Colin Powell

Former Secretary of State, United States of America

Colin Powell: It was only once I was in college, about six months into college when I found something that I liked, and that was ROTC, Reserve Officer Training Corps in the military. And I not only liked it, but I was pretty good at it. That's what you really have to look for in life, something that you like, and something that you think you're pretty good at. And if you can put those two things together, then you're on the right track, and just drive on.
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Colin Powell

Former Secretary of State, United States of America

Colin Powell: When I got orders to Vietnam in the summer of 1962 I was excited and very happy. I'd been selected by my government to go to a combat zone and to serve a purpose that was noble. And we were fighting communism and we were going to try to help the South Vietnamese protect themselves from communism and defend their way of life, let them make their own choice as to how they should be governed. And so, it was a very noble undertaking and it was wrapped in the mystique of the Kennedy era. And I was one of the first group of advisors, actually the second group of advisors to go in, about 15,000 of us at that time. And so, for a young 25 year-old infantry captain this was it, this was the thing to do.
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