“What did you do in the war, Daddy?”
This best described my kids less than subtle message. To this day my daughter believed the CIA had employed me. When my son said, “Dad, you ought to start up a website about your past adventures,” it gave me pause. Did I really want to unearth my dubious past alongside misfits, rabble-rousers, and extreme individualists, some, like myself, who had entered the U.S. Foreign Service through the backdoor?
My son sugarcoated it by arguing that a lot of people on the Internet would love to read accounts about their friends and relatives’ past lives in the Foreign Service and elsewhere in cities that most people had never heard of.
The idea to rekindle the past for Foreign Service vets and their offspring, as well as military personnel, and globetrotting engineers had merit, although it required caveats:
My Foreign Service messages will be conveyed to the best of my recollections. Necessity may require me to “fill in the blanks” to present an interesting and cohesive message—I will make full use of “poetic license.” No apologizes for any memory failures or for mischaracterizations. It’s not my intention to embarrass anyone, tarnish memories, or be political.
If the readers feel like they have been sitting across from me in a bar (or coffee shop) in some third world country between Kabul and Nairobi while reading my messages, then I will have done my job.
While considering how to approach “Foreign Service Messages, I came across the following quote that will serve my mission:
“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
― Rudyard Kipling
FOREIGN SERVICES MESSAGES will embrace Rudyard Kipling’s words through a series of stories, articles, and anecdotes centered around my working life that paralleled two related phenomenon that have shaped American life from then until now.
The Pioneering Age of Radio and Security
From the transistor radio craze of the late 1950’s to the development of the wallet sized “pager” radio in the 1970’s my “coming of age” led from service in the U.S. Army to an assignment on a Pacific isle, followed by a chance opportunity in the U.S. Foreign Service.
The Dawn of International Terrorism
My stories and anecdotes will chronicle a regular guy’s risky assignments amid the so-called “dawn of international terrorism” from 1968 to 1979. This period reflects the tumultuous times in the Foreign Service community amidst the backdrop of modern terrorism.
Author Virginia Wolff wrote, “the past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.”
FSM intends to explore those emotions and reach out to Foreign Service veterans, expats and military personnel who sought out humor and hope during turbulent times.
The author welcomes the reader’s comments or “messages.” This is your opportunity to reflect on the times, keeping in mind that a good story must accompany any history lesson.