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NOTE
: THE DEFINING GENERATION is a project begun by Doug and Pam Sterner in 2002 and completed in 2006. Initially is was prepared for publication as a book, however with their changing focus to development of a database of military awards, was postponed indefinitely so they could concentrate on that larger, more important work. The stories found herein however, need to be shared, and they have consented to make this compilation available in this format. While each story can stand alone, it is recommended that for continuity, readers will be best served by reading the chapters sequentially from first to last.

 

The Defining Generation

-

Defining the Future of Politics

Condoleezza Rice

 

"It is often said that diversity is one of our nation's greatest strengths, but too rarely do we take the time to think what that means. I believe the answer is very simple. America and Americans are willing to embrace all that is good in the world…while maintaining the basic principles of American liberty, as enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights."

Secretary Condoleezza Rice

 

 

In 1963 while Hillary Rodham was campaigning for Barry Goldwater, 600 miles and a world away another young lady seven years her junior was growing up very much like Hillary in Birmingham , Alabama . A study of their young lives reveals they had much in common: both came from middle-class families with modest but stable livelihoods, both had loving parents who encouraged them to study and pursue advanced educations and who refused to limit their future based on gender, and both had dreams for their future. They were both bright and basically typical young girls developing their separate approaches to the problems in America . Their primary difference was in their political approach to those problems, while Hillary Rodham was a conservative Republican, Condoleezza "Condi" Rice was a traditional Southern Democrat.

The unusual name that Reverend John Wesley Rice, Jr. and his wife Angela gave their daughter when she was born in Birmingham on November 14, 1954 , is derived from an Italian musical expression; Con dolcezza meaning "with sweetness." An only child, she grew up with the undivided love and attention of her parents to exude the meaning of her name in both word and deed. Her roots in the South ran deep, her paternal great-grandmother was born the child of a slave and her paternal great-grandfather was himself a slave. One of their sons, John Rice, Jr., sought to build a new life beyond the family farm through education.

"One day he decided he was going to get book learning," Condi has said in various presentations, so he asked in the parlance of the day how a colored man might get to college. And they told him about 50 miles down the road there was this little Presbyterian college called Stillman college and if he would go there he could get a college education. So he saved up his cotton and he took off for Tuscaloosa and he finished his first year of college. They said, 'Now how are you going to pay for your second year?' He said, 'Well, I'm out of cotton.' They aid, 'You're out of luck, you'll have to leave Stillman.' " John Rice learned however, that some of his classmates were getting their education paid for through scholarships, based upon their promise to study to become Presbyterian ministers. Rice continues, "And my grandfather said, 'Well, you know, that's just what I had in mind.' And my family has been Presbyterian and college-educated ever since." [i]

Condoleezza's grandfather pastored in Louisiana and then was sent to Birmingham , Alabama , to oversee a Presbyterian mission. Reverend Rice, drawing on his own experience, became a driving force in encouraging poor young men and women in his Black congregation to concentrate on getting a good education and pursue a college diploma. Among them was his own son, Condi's father, who followed his father's footsteps into ministry and inspiring and encouraging Birmingham youth. She says of her father, "He really was a person who believed that even if Birmingham was, at the time, a place of limited horizons for black children, it should still be a place of unlimited dreams."[ii]

A college education was equally important to the family of Condi's mother Angela, whose father (Condi's Grandfather) Albert Ray determined that his own five children would never have to work as he did in his own teen years in the mines. Holding down three jobs in Birmingham he put all of his children through college; Angela earning a teaching degree. She was teaching music and science at Fairfield High School in a suburb of Birmingham when she met John Rice. Reverend Rice also taught at Fairfield to supplement his ministerial salary, and coached the school's basketball and football teams. The two married in 1954 and by the end of the year welcomed a daughter to their young family.

Condi was born on a Sunday morning, even as her father was presiding over his congregation at church. In her infancy the pastor and his family actually lived in a small residence within the church building itself, and later moved to a parsonage a few blocks away. Thus Condi's life and livelihood was constantly tied directly to the church, her father's ministry, and her own faith. All would figure prominently in her thinking throughout life. As the only child of two educators, learning was also a primary focus. Condi learned to read by age five but, because she was too young to enter school Angela took a one-year leave from her traditional classroom to home-school her daughter. When she at last began public school she was well ahead of her classmates and would excel academically throughout her life. To broaden their daughter's experiences the Rice's enrolled her in various schools in the early years to expose her to different people, different societies, and divergent views of life in Birmingham .

The parsonage in which Condi spent her formative years was in the middle-class Black neighborhood of Titusville . As such it was sheltered from some of the problems that plagued poorer Black neighborhoods in the 1960s. Even so, it was impossible to avoid contact with the prejudices that plagued the South. She recalls, "I grew up in Birmingham , Alabama , before the Civil Rights movement -- a place that was once described, with no exaggeration, as the most thoroughly segregated city in the country. I know what it means to hold dreams and aspirations when half your neighbors think you are incapable of, or uninterested in, anything better. I know what it's like to live with segregation in an atmosphere of hostility, and contempt, and cold stares, and the ever-present threat of violence, a threat that sometimes erupted into the real thing."[iii]

Reverend and Mrs. Rice did their best to shelter their young daughter from the inequities that existed outside the Fairfield suburb, but knew they could not shield her from the knowledge of what was happening elsewhere. At the same time they taught their daughter never to bow to racial prejudice when it reared its ugly head. On an outing with her mother to a downtown department one day, Condi picked out a dress she wanted to try on and mother and daughter walked towards a dressing room. The white salesperson took the dress out of young Condi's hand, pointed to the sign that read "Whites Only," and directed them to a distant dressing room reserved for Black customers. Angela Rice, a dignified and well-dressed professional woman, refused and advised the clerk that if she wanted their business, her daughter would try on the dress in a real dressing room. Economics won over prejudice and Condi recalled, "I remember the woman standing there guarding the door, worried to death she was going to lose her job."[iv]

It was just such prejudice that ten years earlier prompted Reverend Rice himself to reject his traditional Democratic roots. It was hard NOT to be socially liberal in the face of poverty and repression in the South. In 1952 however, Reverend Rice met bigotry at its most blatant when he tried to vote in the Presidential election. Dixiecrats, segregationist Southern Democrats, in efforts to repress both the poor and the Black vote instituted poll taxes and other measures to control political power. Under the guise of protecting the ballot from the uneducated, literacy and education tests became a common ploy. When Reverend Rice tried to vote in Birmingham that year a poll worker pointed to a jar of beans and advised that if he could guess the number of beans contained therein, he would be deemed smart enough to vote. After learning from members of his Congregation that Republican poll workers did not engage in such tactics, he registered with that party. As a minister and a man dedicated to improving the lives of youth in his community he remained something of a social liberal, but was after 1952 a life-time Republican. Not until 1982 did his daughter change from Democrat to Republican.

Condi was only eight years old in 1963 when Birmingham erupted into demonstrations and riots. Church leaders rallying around Dr. Martin Luther King frequently involved young Blacks in their efforts to draw attention to what was happening in the South. Birmingham police responded with fire hoses, vicious dogs, and violence. White supremacists and segregationists responded with attacks, shootings, and hidden bombs. While Reverend Rice supported the Civil Rights movement, he objected to putting any children in harm's way for the cause. Danger however, could not be avoided. On Sunday, September 15, the pastor of the 16th Street Baptist Church had just finished preaching a sermon titled "The Love That Forgives" when a bomb exploded in the basement killing four young girls and wounding 22 other youth.

"I did not see it happen," Condoleezza says, "but I heard it happen and I felt it happen, just a few blocks away at my father's church. It is a sound that I will never forget, that will forever reverberate in my ears. That bomb took the lives of four young girls, including my friend and playmate Denise McNair. The crime was calculated, not random. It was meant to suck the hope out of young lives, bury their aspirations, and ensure that old fears would be propelled forward into the next generation."[v]

Churches were not the only targets of bombers and violent hate-mongers during that tragic summer of 1963. The homes of prominent Black leaders were bombed, other homes were indiscriminately shot up, and burning crosses of the Ku Klux Klan blazed in the night sky fro the lawns of Black families. Condoleezza recalls vividly how during that turbulent time, her father sat up late at night cradling a rifle to protect the family home from outside threats. Those personal experiences framed her current strong support for the right to bear arms. In a May 11, 2002, interview with CNN's Larry King she said, " My father and his friends defended our community in 1962 and 1963 against white nightriders by going to the head of the community, the head of the cul-de-sac, and sitting there armed. And so I'm very concerned about any abridgement of the Second Amendment. I'll tell you that I know that if Bull Connor had had lists of registered weapons, I don't think my father and his friends would have been sitting at the head of the community defending the community."

In 1965 the family moved to Tuscalloosa where Reverend Rice took the position as dean of students at Stillman College . During summers he attended graduate courses at the University of Denver and, after receiving a Master of Arts degree in education, the family moved to Colorado in 1967. There at the university where he received his degree he worked first as assistant director of admissions, then taught classes, and eventually after 13 years became vice chancellor of university resources. Condoleezza attended St. Mary's Academy, a private all-girls Catholic high school in the upscale neighborhood of Cherry Hills. Those years marked her first educational experience while attending an integrated school.

When Condoleezza finished all requirements for graduation by the beginning of her senior year, her parents tried to persuade her to enroll at the University of Denver . Condi wanted to remain with her class to graduate with a high school diploma and describes the disagreement as her one moment of rebellion against the wishes of her parents. Ultimately she did both, attending classes at the university in the morning and returning to Cherry Hills in the afternoon for her high school classes, graduating from St. Mary's at age sixteen.

Condoleezza had always been interested in piano and began playing at age three. Through her youth and into her teen years it was her primary passion and her early dreams were of becoming a concert pianist. Slowly she realized that while she did have a talent for the keyboard, it did not rise to the level of a life-time career. At D.U. where her father taught classes in American history and Black History she took an interest in politics. The burning issue of the day was the war in Vietnam , a conflict her father spoke in opposition to. In an interview with Bill Sammon in 2004 she spoke of her own feelings about the Vietnam War. "For people of that generation," she said, "it became the lodestar for the questioning of authority. And authority was never to be trusted again. And so whenever people say ' Vietnam ,' what they mean is 'Authority is not to be trusted."[vi]

Condoleezza's political interests were seated in foreign policy in general and, with the Cold War still a subject of concern and her favorite professor Dr. Josef Korbel (the father of Madeleine Albright) teaching Soviet studies, she applied herself to learning all she could about America 's distant enemies. In 1974 at age nineteen she received her Bachelors Degree in Political Science and the following year received her masters from the University of Notre Dame. In 1977 she began working as an intern in the Carter Administration's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and in 1981, at the age of 26, received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the Graduate School of International Studies at Denver .

In 1982 Dr. Rice, now one of the most astute academics on issues of foreign policy, could no longer agree with the activities of President Carter's administration. Biographer Antonia Felix told The Washington Post, "Rice was very focused on foreign policy, as that is her area of expertise, and although she had voted for Carter she was very disappointed in how he handled the Soviet Union 's invasion of Afghanistan . She thought the administration was very weak in its attitude about the Soviet Union 's capabilities as well as in its response, so she switched parties."[vii]

Dr. Rice later described her conversion noting, "The first Republican I knew was my father, and he is still the Republican I most admire," Rice has said. "He joined our party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him to vote. The Republicans did. My father has never forgotten that day, and neither have I."[viii]

In 1981 Dr. Rice went to work as an Assistant Professor in Political Science at Stanford University where she was granted tenure in 1987 and promoted to Provost six years later. She was the first woman, the first minority, and the youngest Provost at the University.

In 1984 Brent Scowcroft spoke to a faculty dinner at Stanford about "arms control" and met Dr. Rice, who impressed him with her knowledge and insight into the Eastern bloc. In 1989 when President George H. W. Bush appointed Scowcroft to be National Security Advisor he remembered the bright young academic and hired her to be his expert on Soviet issues. Two years later the Berlin Wall had fallen and Germany was reunited. The Soviet bloc was broken and the Cold War was officially over. Dr. Rice returned to Stanford in 1991 to continue her teaching career but took a leave of absence during the Presidential Election of Campaign in 2000 to become Republican candidate George W. Bush's foreign policy advisor.

Following George Bush's election, on December 17, 2000 , Dr. Rice became the president-elect's choice to become National Security Advisor. She was the first woman ever confirmed to that post and earned the nickname "Warrior Princess" for her strong determination that was mixed with a mild and insightful manner.

On November 16, 2004, following the resignation of General Colin Powell, Dr. Rice was nominated to become "Secretary Rice," the first woman appointed as U.S. Secretary of State in history and the second Black American to hold that post. She was confirmed two months later by a Senate vote of 85 - 13.

Like the girl who grew up so much like herself, Hillary Clinton, (today perhaps considered Secretary Rice's own antithesis), Secretary Rice remains a controversial figure who is both loved and rejected--perhaps like Senator Clinton because she too is difficult to quantify. Jay Nordinger wrote for National Review seven years before Secretary Rice ascended to the post that has now made her one of the most successful women of our generation: "Rice characterizes herself as an 'all-over-the-map Republican,' whose views are 'hard to typecast': 'very conservative' in foreign policy, 'ultra-conservative' in other areas, 'almost shockingly libertarian' on some issues, 'moderate' on others, 'liberal" on probably nothing.' (She calls herself 'mildly pro-choice' on abortion.)"[ix]

 

Senator Clinton and Secretary Rice, despite their differences, remain vivid examples of the changing politics of our time, not only in terms of activism and dissent, but perhaps more importantly in their individual willingness to not only ask hard questions but to change their minds based upon what they have observed and learned. In a very special way, ours is a generation that learned to become pliable and reject any action, simply because "this is the way it has always been done."

Our Nation, indeed our world, is better for it.



[i] Rice, Condoleezza, Vanderbilt University Commencement Address, May 13, 2004

[ii] Felix, Antonia, Condi-The Condoleezza Rice Story, Newmarket Press, New York , 2002

[iii] Rice, Condoleezza, ibid

[iv] Felix, Antonia, ibid, p 44.

[v] Rice, Condoleezza, ibid

[vi] Sammon, Bill, "Vietnam War Fixation Endures," The Washington Times, May 11, 2004

[vii] The Washington Post, "Interview with Antonia Felix," December 2, 2002

[viii] Rice, Condoleezza, ibib

[ix] Nordinger, Jay, "Star in Waiting," National Review, August 30, 1999

 

The Defining Generation: Copyright © 2006 by Doug and Pam Sterner
All Rights Reserved

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Cover & Introduction
     Preface
Out With the Old
     The Defining Generation

I. - Defining the New
     John Fitzgerald Kennedy
     Roger H.C. Donlon
     Robert Robin Moore
     Barry Sadler
     The Green Beret

II. - Defining Equality
     When Worlds Collide
     Dr. Martin Luther King
     Jimmy Stanford & Vince Yrineo
     Milton Lee Olive, III
     Specialist Lawrence Joel
     Sammy Lee Davis
     Black MOH Recipients - Vietnam War

III. - Defining the Role of the Sexes
     Evolution of a Husband
     Remember the Ladies
     Rosie the Riveter
     Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard
     Linda G. Alvarado
     Karen Irene Offutt
     Women in Military Service
     Lieutenant General Carol Mutter
     The Modern Woman in Combat
IV. - Defining Human Rights
     My Brother's Keeper
     Who is My Brother
     Christopher Dodd & Christopher Shays
     Peace Corps Politicians (Memories)
     Don Bendell
     Sir Edward Artis
     General Colin L. Powell

V. - Defining Entertainment
     Life Imitating Art
     Troubled Waters
     Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
     Brian's Song
     All in the Family
     Adrian Cronauer

VI. - Defining Dissent

     From Berkeley With Love
     The Pen and the Sword
     General David Shoup
     Muhammad Ali
     John Forbes Kerry

VII. - Defining the Future of Politics
     An Act of Congress
     All Politics is....Hereditary?
     Hillary Rodham Clinton
     Condoleezza Rice
     James Henry Webb
The next Section is scheduled for posting on May 20, 2011
VIII. - Defining Memories
     Jaime Pacheco
     The Glory of their Deeds
     Jan Scruggs
     Delbert Schmeling
     Peter C. Lemon

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
The authors extend our thanks to the following who granted personal interviews for this work
: Roger Donlon (MOH), Robin Moore, Don Bendell, Jimmy Stanford, Vince Yrineo, Sammy L. Davis (MOH), Linda Alvarado, Karen Offutt, Lieutenant General Carol Mutter, Sir Edward Artis, General Colin L. Powell, Katharine Houghton, Adrian Cronauer, Jan Scruggs, Delbert Schmeling, and Peter Lemon (MOH).
Our thanks to the staff of the following who either wrote or allowed reprint of their own works for this book: Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard, Don Bendell, Congressman Sam Farr, Congressman Thomas Petri, Congressman Mike Honda, Congressman Jim Walsh, Governor Jim Doyle, and Scott Baron.
Our special thanks also to the staff of the following who provided information and fact-checked the chapters related to their subject: Staff of Senator John Kerry, Staff of (then) Senator Hillary Clinton, Staff of Senator Jim Webb
A SPECIAL THANKS also to Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard for his assistance in writing and editing the entire section on the Role of the Sexes.

 

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