While in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, it was sad to learn of the death of former Sen. Richard Lugar.
Lugar was my role model, not so much as a politician, but rather for his statesmanship. To Senator Lugar, I owe so much, not only as he appointed me to West Point, but more recently as my daughters were selected for the Lugar Series Next Generation program for female teenage leaders.
My first memory of Lugar was seeing him campaign for US Senate in the Dunkirk Glass Days parade in 1974 when he was Indianapolis Mayor. He lost to Democrat Birch Bayh, but ran again in 1976, beating Democrat Vance Hartke. He spoke before us at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation Leadership Seminar at Marian University in 1983. Later that year, we met again at his annual Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders at the University of Indianapolis. Even then, it was admirable how he balanced, and often led, challenges such as the Senate Foreign Relations, Agriculture and Intelligence Committees.
It was during Summer 1988 that we came to know each other. Serving as a speechwriter/research intern at the Pentagon for Chief of Staff of the Army Carl Vuono, accompanying him to Capitol Hill for hearings, I would always visit Senator Lugar, who made himself available not only to me, but also to my family and a cousin when they visited. During that summer, Senator Lugar told me that, following his Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, he, too, had worked in the Pentagon, but as a Navy Intelligence officer, who briefed Admiral Arleigh Burke when he was Chief of Naval Operations.
Among my favorite memories of Senator Lugar were as a fellow distance runner, often scheduling my leaves home from the Army during the Lugar Fitness Festival! It used to take place annually at Butler University and included 5K and 10K races. Senator Lugar and I were less concerned about our race times than enjoying discussing world affairs while running together! After one of these races, a young left-wing college student challenged him on our policy in Nicaragua in a very hostile way. Lugar stood his ground, but defused the conflict!
As a young Lieutenant in a NATO joint unit on a Bundeswehr (West German Army) base, I served as S-2 (intelligence officer) and executive officer. Our unit was responsible for custody of battlefield-level nuclear weapons. As a result of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, our unit was deactivated. While serving in Germany, the Soviet Union disintegrated, leaving many nuclear weapons behind in the new countries of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and often in questionable hands. Along with Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA), who chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Lugar hammered out the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Act. As a result, the world became a safer place.
Over the years, I told Senator Lugar all about the effects of Brazilian protectionism on my employer. In 2011, he introduced a resolution encouraging the Obama administration to undertake a tax treaty with Brazil, which would have helped my employer. His efforts toward free trade were greatly appreciated.
On April 19, 1996, Senator Lugar announced his candidacy for president. Had the Oklahoma City Federal Building not been bombed that day, he would have received needed media coverage and may have become president. At a minimum, he should have been secretary of state. Either way, the world would be a better place now. Senator Lugar was a veteran, a leader and a statesman. May he rest in peace.
Nate LaMar, an international manager, also served as Henry County Council president from 2009-19.