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Shimon Peres

President of Israel

My grandfather studied together with our greatest poet, by the name of Chaim Nachman Bialik, who is considered our national poet to this very day. And from him, I learned the Talmud, the Bible. As a young boy, he taught me every day a page of the Talmud. I was under his spell. He was a rabbi. I was extremely religious when I was a young boy. It's only when I emigrated to Israel that I divorced my orthodox behavior and concept and changed my dress. I changed my eyes, I changed my outlooks, I changed my behavior. It was like moving from one world to another world, except for one thing, for the love of Israel, for the knowledge of the Hebrew language. That was my world.
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Shimon Peres

President of Israel

When I came to Israel, my first sensation was the blue sky. I never saw a sky as blue as that. Then, I didn't see many rivers, which surprised me again. I didn't see many forests. But on the other hand, all the writings, whether in the streets or in the paper, was in the Hebrew language. That was like entering -- again -- a new world. I saw Israeli policemen. And we came. My father, who emigrated before us a couple of years to prepare our coming, was living in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv was totally white and summery and lovely. They called at that time, "Tel Aviv is a small Paris." I have never been to Paris, so I was sure that Paris is even smaller than Tel Aviv. And when I got bar mitzvah'd -- 13 years old -- my parents bought me a bicycle, and I would -- touring the streets of Tel Aviv to see if they were building a building, if they planted a new tree. I felt as though it would be my estate, as though it would be my life.
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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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