I’ve met some pretty interesting people in my life that had some interesting ideas on leadership. I’ve never seen someone with as clear sense of what it means to be a leader as General Mattis.
As we enter into 2017, buzz that Army General James Mattis will be appointed Secretary of Defense keeps President-Elect Donald Trump in the headlines. In light of this news, a former special assistant to the deputy secretary of defense looked back on a touching memory of Gen. Mattis from years ago.
In her reflection, published by the Weekly Standard earlier this week, Frances Tilney Burke recalls a time the General forwent his meal at a Pentagon dinner so that a hungry soldier could have his fill.
Burke said: I will never forget the moment when General Mattis took his own untouched meal, cleared the young soldier’s plate himself, and gave him a fresh plate of his food. Mattis went without dinner that night, not making a big deal out of it, keeping the table laughing, and making sure all those young warriors were attended to.
I can’t write this story without tears coming to my eyes. It was a happy dinner but also touched by so much sadness. People’s lives had been profoundly changed by the war. But General Mattis was just doing what he saw as his job: taking care of those who had served him and their country so bravely, and not once looking for recognition. That small act gives me great faith in what he can do as Secretary of Defense.
What an incredible gesture, and by a man who wasn’t the least obliged to do so.