Alexander M. Haig, Jr.
EULOGY AS DELIVERED ON MARCH 2, 2010 ON THE OCCASION OF THE MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL AND CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF ALEXANDER M. HAIG, JR., IN THE BASILICA OF THE NATIONAL SHRINE OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, WASHINGTON, D.C.
BY SHERWOOD (WOODY) D. GOLDBERG
MRS. HAIG, ALEX, BARBARA, BRIAN, FATHER FRANK, ARMY LIEUTENANT ALEXANDER P. HAIG, JR. PRESENTLY DEPLOYED WITH THE 173RD BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM, SECRETARY GATES, GENERAL AND MRS. CHIARELLI, YOUR EXCELLENCIES, FRIENDS:
SOLDIER, STATESMAN, DIPLOMAT, LEADER, DISTINGUISHED GRADUATE OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY, LOVING HUSBAND, FATHER, GRANDFATHER-- AN HISTORIC GIANT OF OUR ERA-GENERAL ALEXANDER M. HAIG JR, WHOSE LIFE WE CELEBRATE TODAY.
WE MET IN VIETNAM ON APRIL 4, 1967 AFTER THE FEROUCIOUS BATTLE OF AP GU FOUGHT BY THE 1/26TH INFANTRY LED BY THEN-LTC ALEXANDER HAIG. GEORGE JOULWAN THEN A CAPTAIN WAS HIS VALUED OPERATIONS OFFICER. THE 1/26TH WAS THE BEST OF BATTALIONS, FEARED BY THOSE WHO SHOULD AND HIGHLY RESPECTED THROUGHOUT OUR ARMY. THE “DOBOL BATTALION” HELD OFF THE ATTACK OF AN ENEMY REGIMENT AT AP GU WHICH OUT NUMBERED HAIG’S INFANTRYMEN 3 TO ONE.
FOUR DAYS LATER LTC HAIG TOOK OVER THE 2ND BRIGADE OF THE 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION, ITS HEADQUARTERS TARGETED AS WELL. I WAS BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS COMPANY COMMANDER. LTC HAIG SPIED ME AS HE INSPECTED THE FIRE BASE. BEFORE I COULD REPORT TO HIM, HE ASKED, “AND WHO ARE YOU?” I RESPONDED AFTER A SALUTE, “I AM SIR THE GUY IN CHARGE HERE”! HIS RESPONSE: “WELL NOW-- YOU ARE JUST THE ( EXPLETIVE DELETED) I AM LOOKING FOR. NOW CLEAN UP THIS MESS AND GET READY FOR ANOTHER ATTACK”.
THE HAIG WE KNEW, NEVER DWELT ON THE PAST. YESTERDAY’S MISTAKES WERE TODAY’S OPPORTUNITIES. ‘EVER FORWARD-- EVER UPWARD’ AS HE WOULD SAY!
THERE WAS A JOB TO BUILD A SAFER WORLD FOR GENERATIONS TO COME –THIS WAS HIS DESTINY. HE WAS STEADFAST IN THIS NOBLE PURSUIT.
IN 1979, GENERAL HAIG RETIRED AS NATO COMMANDER TO PHILADELPHIA AND ASKED ME AS A CIVILIAN TO REJOIN HIM. I TOOK THE PLACE OF HIS MILITARY AIDES (MAJOR SETH HUDGINS AND CAPTAIN DAVE MERHAR) WHO WERE OBLIGED TO RETURN TO EUROPE. POLITICS WAS ON THE RADAR SCREEN FOR GENERAL HAIG.
SEEKING TO KNOW THE LIKES AND DISLIKES OF THIS AMERICAN HERO, I ASKED SETH WHAT IS THE WORSE THING I CAN DO? WITHOUT HESITATION SETH REPLIED, “NOT TO TELL THE TRUTH!”
THE GOAL POSTS WERE IN PLACE FOR OUR SUBSEQUENT 26 YEAR ASSOCIATION IN THE CORPORATE WORLD, STATE DEPARTMENT, AND PRIVATE SECTOR. WE TRAVELED THE WORLD AT A FRENETIC PACE. WE HAD A BALL!
HE ROSE IN THE MILITARY THROUGH HARD WORK, LOYAL TO THOSE HE SERVED AND TO THOSE WHO SERVED WITH HIM.
AS EUROPEANS SAID OF HIM, HE WAS THE FINEST NATO COMMANDER SINCE EISENHOWER. HE REINVIGORATED THE ALLIANCE, AND CONTRIBUTED TO THE FALL OF THE SOVIET UNION, A SYSTEM HE LONG PREDICTED WOULD COLLAPSE OF ITS OWN INTERNAL CONTRADICTIONS.
SIX DAYS BEFORE HE LEFT NATO, HE WAS THE TARGET OF A TERRORIST ATTACK BECAUSE HE REPRESENTED STRENGTH AND THE VALUES OF OUR NATION. AS HE WOULD SAY, HE DODGED A BULLET.
HE LOVED TO JOKE—“AT NATO I HAD 13 BOSSES, THE U.S. WAS BUT ONE. THEY NEVER COULD AGREE SO I COULD DO IT MY WAY.”
IN CIVILIAN LIFE HE LECTURED WIDELY ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL SCENE.
YOUNG AND OLD, MEN AND WOMEN FLOCKED TO LEARN FROM HIM, GET HIS PERSPECTIVE ON A WORLD IN FLUX. STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, FOR EXAMPLE LINED UP AN HOUR BEFORE HIS SEMINAR TO GET A SEAT CLOSE TO HIM. HE INSPIRED THEM FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND WON THE HEARTS IF NOT THE MINDS OF A LIBERAL FACULTY. THEY TOO GREW TO LOVE HIM.
ENTERING THE POLITICAL ARENA WAS VERY TEMPTING FOR HIM. HE DECLINED A ‘DRAFT HAIG’ MOVEMENT IN 1979, BUT DID ENGAGE IN THE ‘88 CAMPAIGN. HIS GOOD FRIEND MORT SAHL OPINED “AL HAIG THREW HIS HELMET IN THE RING”. TO WHICH GENERAL HAIG REPLIED: “YES AND MY HELMET BOUNCED”.
IN LATE 1979, HE ACCEPTED THE INVITATION TO BE PRESIDENT OF UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION. IN 1982, HE REJOINED UTC AS SENIOR ADVISOR TO CHAIRMAN HARRY GRAY, THEN BOB DANIELL AND GEORGE DAVID. HE WAS VERY PROUD OF THE CORPORATION AND HIS ROLE IN HELPING BUILD IT TO A WORLD CLASS MULTINATIONAL ENTITY. HE WAS ESPECIALLY PROUD TO SAY HE HELPED USHER IN THE BLACK HAWK HELICOPTER NOW THE BACKBONE OF ARMY ROTARY AVIATION.
IT ALWAYS WAS GENERAL HAIG. WHEN ASKED IF HE PREFERRED SECRETARY OR GENERAL HAIG, HE REPLIED: “I WORKED HARDER TO BECOME A GENERAL”.
BUT WHEN HE INTRODUCED HIMSELF IT WAS: “HI, I’M AL HAIG”. TO HIS WEST POINT CLASSMATES WHOM HE LOVED, HE WAS “ BIG AL”!
HISTORIANS WILL EVENTUALLY MARK HIS TENURE AS SECRETARY OF STATE BY ACCOMPLISHMENTS NOT EVIDENT TO MANY OF THE PUNDITS. HE ENHANCED THE IMPLIMENTATION OF “THE CAMP DAVID ISRAEL-EGYPTIAN PEACE TREATY”; BROUGHT ASEAN TO NEW VITALITY; SHORED UP OUR ALLIANCES; AND MARKEDLY IMPROVED THE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHINA.
IN HIS VIEW, HIS PRESIDENT NEEDED TO KNOW REALITY AND GENERAL HAIG WAS WILLING TO LET THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY MAY. AS HE OFTEN SAID: “IT IS A GREAT LIFE IF YOU DO NOT WEAKEN”.
WHEN OTHERS IN 1981 URGED THE CRUSHING OF OUR STARTEGIC ALLY ISRAEL FOR TAKING OUT THE IRAQI NUCLEAR FACILITY WITHOUT AMERICAN PERMISSION, HE TOLD THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET: “SOME DAY YOU WILL GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND THANK GOD FOR WHAT ISRAEL DID.”
IN 1981, WHEN SOVIET AMBASSADOR DOBRYNIN MADE HIS FIRST CALL ON THE NEW SECRETARY OF STATE, HAIG GREETED HIM: “ MR. AMBASSADOR-- NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN-- WON’T YOU SIT IN MY BIG RED CHAIR. THE AMBASSADOR WAS TAKEN ABACK SPEECHLESS-ONE COULD HEAR THE CHIMES FROM THE CLOCK IN HAIG’S OFFICE USHERING IN A NEW ERA.
SECRETARY HAIG COULD SIGNAL GREEN LIGHTS, OR RED LIGHTS AND EVEN YELLOW LIGHTS WITH HIS “HAIG SPEAK”. EXAMPLE: “THE DIALECTIC PROCESS HAS NOT FULLY RUN ITS COURSE”.
TO ASPIRING YOUNG DIPLOMATS HE COUNSELED: “READ HISTORY, READ HISTORY SO AS NOT TO REPEAT THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS.”
AS TENSIONS AGAIN HEAT UP BETWEEN ARGENTINA AND GREAT BRITAIN OVER THE FALKLAND ISLANDS , THE LESSON HE WOULD SHARE FROM HIS 1982 UNTIRING EFFORTS TO AVERT A WAR WOULD BE THAT AN ADMINISTRATION MUST SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE OTHERWISE ALL ARE CONFUSED. .
EVEN IN HIS FINAL ILLNESS, OUR NATION’S RELATIONSHIP WITH CHINA WAS PARAMOUNT. HIS PRINCIPLED COUNSEL WAS OUR WORD IS OUR BOND. THEREFORE OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHINA IS FOUNDED ON THE THREE JOINT COMMUNIQUES AS AFFIRMED BY SUBSEQUENT PRESIDENTS. HE WOULD POINT OUT THAT OTHER OBLIGATIONS DO NOT TRUMP THE FOUNDATION SET IN THE THREE COMMUNIQUES AND SHOULD NOT UNDERMINE THE BILATERAL STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIP HE AND OTHERS FOSTERED WITH CHINA. OUR NATION’S WORD IS OUR BOND.
AS HE SAID,”IF YOU LOSE YOUR CREDIBILITY AS A NATION OR AS A PERSON WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN THE NEXT GO AROUND?”
IN OCTOBER 1989, FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE TIANANMAN INCIDENT, HE WAS THE FIRST FORMER U.S. OFFICIAL TO VENTURE PUBLICALLY TO BEIJING. HE MET DENG XIAO PING IN A REVIEWING BOX OVER THE SQUARE DURING THEIR 40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION. THE CHAIRMAN GREETED HIM: “WELL MY OLD AMERICAN FRIEND THE GENERAL-- THE ONLY ONE WITH ENOUGH GUTS TO VISIT ME AT THIS TIME!” AND THEN DENG ADDED, “I UNDERSTAND YOU WERE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. HAD YOU ASKED, I COULD HAVE DELIVERED 1.2 BILLION CHINESE VOTES!” GENERAL HAIG LAUGHED. HE LOVED IT!
TO THOSE WHO COMPETED WITH HIM AT GOLF OR TENNIS, HE WOULD SAY-GOOD MATCH, GREAT GAME AND THANK YOU FOR THE TIME TOGETHER. HE LOVED EACH OF YOU.
A MANDATE-- EVER STEADY AS WE TRAVELED THE GLOBE, WAS TO SCHEDULE TIME FOR HIM TO CALL PAT! A MUST DO! SO OFTEN HE SPOKE OF HIS JOY IN MRS. HAIG AS HIS PARTNER AND HOW MUCH HE “LOVED HIS PAT”. WHAT A COUPLE!
HE WAS TO USE A JEWISH EXPRESSION A ‘MENSCH’- A VERY GOOD, CARING, LOVING PERSON. HE WAS MY MENTOR AND I LOVED HIM AS A SECOND FATHER.
PRESIDENT OBAMA SAID OF HIM, HE WAS OF THE “FINEST WARRIOR DIPLOMAT TRADITION WHO SERVED HIS COUNTRY WITH DISTINCTION”; SECRETARY CLINTON NOTED “HE EARNED HONORS ON THE BATTLEFIELD AND THE CONFIDENCE OF PRESIDENTS AND PRIME MINISTERS”. AND AS SECRETARY SHULTZ SAID OF HIM: “HE WAS A PATRIOT’S PATRIOT”.
HE PUT HIS COUNTRY BEFORE SELF AND FOUGHT TO DEFEND THE VALUES FOR WHICH WE STAND.
AND HE WAS NEVER TAINTED BY A SCANDAL. QUITE A FEAT IN THIS CAPITAL!
THIS IS HIS LEGACY. THIS IS HIS PLACE IN WORLD HISTORY AND IN THE AMERICA HE LOVED AND FOR THIS WE SALUTE YOU GENERAL ALAEXANDER HAIG.
IT CAN BE SAID OF THIS GREAT MAN OF THE LONG GRAY LINE, “WELL DONE, WELL DONE, BE THOU AT PEACE THY SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE”.
Time Magazine, March 10, 2010
by Henry A. Kissinger
Wherever he served, he made a difference. That is the compliment Al Haig, who died on Feb. 20 at age 85, would have most appreciated. Service was his purpose. Courage was his defining characteristic. Patriotism, his impetus.
Societies become rich through ingenuity and hard work. But they become great because they produce men and women who lift them beyond the moment. Alexander Haig, who served his country during turbulent times, was such a person. I recruited him for the National Security Council staff as my deputy. One of his principal tasks was to help end a war that President Richard Nixon had inherited and in which Al had fought. It proved a heartrending journey, especially for a soldier. But with typical skill and dedication, Al carried out the many vital missions entrusted to him, including the dual tasks of extricating America from war while preserving the nation's honor.
As Nixon's chief of staff, Al had an even more grueling assignment: holding our government together as its presidency disintegrated in the worst constitutional crisis since the Civil War. Al almost single-handedly saw us through this travail. He was willing, and sometimes eager, to battle for his convictions in the many important positions he held afterward, including those of NATO commander and Secretary of State to President Ronald Reagan.
A warrior-statesman, Al Haig will be remembered with respect, affection and the special kind of gratitude reserved for those who stood by their country in times of need. He leaves a big hole in the lives of his many friends and on the ramparts of our nation.
Kissinger was Secretary of State from 1973 to '77 and National Security Adviser from 1969 to 1975.