Remembering and Honoring Service
A week of memories, some of them deeply grievous. Remembering 9/11 and our very serious charge to “never forget.” Pausing to honor the lives and impact of Queen Elizabeth II and Mikhail Gorbachev. A week of reflections, indeed. I remember where I was on September 11, 2001. And I remember Gorbachev’s visit to Minnesota on June 3, 1990. And, of course, we all remember that just this past Thursday the world lost its second-longest reigning monarch on record.
Just around the corner is an opportunity to honor public servants in our lives today. On Thursday, September 29th, the St. Paul Area Chamber and East Metro Chamber partners will host the annual Leaders in Local Government Awards. This year’s event features retired St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell, and is our opportunity to elevate and celebrate public servants who work on our behalf every day. I hope you’ll join us to thank the nominees, all who exemplify and demonstrate innovation, excellence, and success in local government!
Thinking back on Mikhail Gorbachev and his visit to Minnesota (highlights and memories): I had just gotten back to the U.S. after my tour of duty in West Germany. We had experienced the Berlin Wall come down in November of 1989, the Perestroika (“restructuring”) political and economic reform and glasnost (“openness”) policy reform had gripped the world with hope. And this was the first time a Soviet leader had visited America’s heartland during the Cold War since Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited Iowa in 1959. Gorbachev’s policies helped bring an end to the Cold War, led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall, encouraged the rise of democracy in Europe, and ultimately led to a complete dismantling of the Soviet Union. Vladimir Lenin created the communist system that challenged the West; Mikhail Gorbachev brought that system down. Say what you will of Gorbachev’s success in doing so; he earned his place in history and he understood one thing: “only democratic change had any chance of producing real economic improvements to ordinary lives.”
See you in the trenches.
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