At the conference in Lake Placid, we had the opportunity to hear several talented, entertaining and enlightening speakers. The first was P. J. O’Rourke ~ very witty. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to get up in front of 100 + combat veterans with spouses and attempt to keep their attention by speaking on foreign affairs observations. P.J.O’Rourke has a style of speaking which is a lot like the Will Rogers’ style ~ a meandering of topics loosely tied together. He has authored a multitude of books which I plan on reading now that I’ve heard him speak and the tone is set.
The next morning, Father Mark Sargent had us riveted for more than 2.5 hours without a break. Not once did I look at my watch. The topic was Islam and I learned a lot! Hopefully, I’ll retain some of what I learned since I didn’t take notes. Father Sargent is currently the Bishop Representative for Interfaith Matters. His presentation was enlightening and his manner of speaking was so interesting and easy to comprehend. At the end of the conference, everyone I spoke with concurred that he was a fabulous speaker. I think a big part of his ability to relate to the audience is that he’s a former paratrooper from the Canadian Airborne Regiment.
Interestingly, both speakers were in Somalia back in 1993. Mr. O’Rourke covered it as a Foreign Correspondent and Father Sargent spoke about it in terms of how his unit was one first responders in Somalia but due to a lack of knowledge, they made political matters worse not better.
Each time they spoke about Somalia, I would look to the Command Sergeant Major sitting next to me. He was part of a unit in the story we know of as Black Hawk Down. His unit rescued the Rangers. All three men, Father Sargent, P.J. O’Rourke and the Command Sergeant Major had a different experience in a pivotal part of history and now they were all in the same room ~ with me.
A fascinating juxtaposition of living history so many years later ~ if only I’d had my camera handy!