Over the past few days I have written a couple of articles about friendship, life, living, and coming through dark times. I guess it is fitting to close the week with some thoughts in friendship.
Having lived through good times and bad I find it encouraging to have had friends in many places who have been there for me, not just in the good times, but in the bad as well. As such I truly value those kinds of friends, as well as admire men who though successful, also knew the crucible of going through hard times and were there for each other.
Being a career military officer, as well as the child of a Navy Chief Petty Officer, most of my life has revolved around the military. From my youngest days I think it was all I ever wanted to do, and beginning in grade school I started reading the biographies of famous military leaders, as well as history. As a result I learned early that many of the men that I admired the most were the ones who rose above adversity, who endured defeat as well as savored victory, and who quite often were very flawed people. As I have gotten older I have come to appreciate such people more and more.
Two of my favorites are Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. Both struggled at times in their lives, and during the dark early days of the Civil War they became fast friends. The were people in the Army, the government and the media that attempted to destroy them as much as the Confederates that they fought on the battlefield. Theirs was a friendship that lasted to the end of their lives.
Grant once noted: “The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who a so willing to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.” I personally cannot help but to agree. It is easy to have people to want to be your friend when everything is going well, but it is the person who stands by you when all has gone to hell that you really appreciate. I think that Grant and Sherman both understood that simple truth. Sherman said of Grant after the war, “Grant stood by me when I was crazy. I stood by him when he was drunk. Now we stand together.” Having been both crazy and drunk at various times I can relate to that.
So anyway, since we as a nation are terribly rent by political and other kinds of division, I hope that you will find in these words something to go back and find the people who were there for you in your most difficult times. Give them a call, a message and let them know what they mean to you. Don’t let anything get in the way of that, politics, religion, whatever. I plan on making a number of calls, if nothing else to touch bases with friends that I haven’t seen or talked to recently, and let them know what they mean to me.
Have a great weekend.