Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf died today at the age of 78 in Tampa, Florida, from complications from pneumonia. Ironically, George Bush (the elder), who was president when Schwarzkopf commanded the U.S.-led coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991, is currently in the ICU of a Houston hospital fighting off a "stubborn fever." But that didn't stop Bush from releasing the following statement: "Barbara and I mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation."
From his days as a highly decorated combat soldier in Vietnam Operation Desert Storm, Schwarzkopf was indeed a respected and well-regarded figure. But who was "Stormin' Norman," really?
Interestingly enough, Schwarzkopf didn't like his famous nickname (inspired by his "notoriously explosive temper"). He apparently preferred a different nickname given to him by his troops: "The Bear." And if his retirement years are any indication, "The Bear" sounds more accurate ... maybe even "The Teddy Bear."
Instead of running for political office (though many tried to convince him), Schwarzkopf spent his post-military years rather quietly. He supported children's charities and avoided media attention. A local elementary school was even named after him. "Stormin' Norman?" Maybe not so much.
I'll admit I don't remember much about Operation Desert Storm -- I was in high school at the time and my only knowledge of politics came from Saturday Night Live. But now, it strikes me as remarkable, or at least noteworthy, that there are no huge personal scandals associated with Schwarzkopf's name. How often does THAT happen anymore? As far as I can tell, he'll be remembered for what he did right, not what he did wrong. I guess that's what made him a "true American patriot."
How will you remember General Norman Schwarzkopf?
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