Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ American Future Series is a colloquium of sorts about the direction that America is taking and how to continually make it an even greater country. The September 11 luncheon at the Irving Convention Center was an especially touching tribute to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country as well as an injunction to the rest of us to honor their sacrifice.
One of the speakers was entrepreneur and energy baron T. Boone Pickens who admonished the assembly about America’s energy potential. It is our part to take bold action to complement with the sacrifice of a few to insure their sacrifice is not in vain.
“Every day 90 million barrels of oil produced in the world ever day. We use 20 million barrels of it. So we’re using approximately 20 percent of all oil produced with 4 percent of the population, and we’re the only country in the world that doesn’t have an energy plan,” Pickens stated bluntly.
He continued saying that, in the United States, the price of oil hovers around $96 a barrel, which is significantly less expensive than anywhere else on the globe.
“The Iranians have $123 a barrel for them to meet their commitments. When I say $96, we’re talking about West Texas. [If] you’re talking about [the] global price for oil, you’re talking about $17, higher which is going to be $115. The United States has the cheapest energy in the world. Believe it or not, it’s true; you don’t have to do any fancy arithmetic to get there.”
Pickens went on the say that gasoline is half the price over here as it is in Europe, and natural gas in the United States is a quarter of the price it is in the rest of the world.
“We’re like $3. Beijing in $15,” he said.
Pickens is convinced that inexpensive energy is the key to getting the United States’ economy back on track.
“If you have the cheapest energy in the world you can rebuild an economy. I can assure you that because [if] you go back to the industrial revolution, that was built on the back of cheap industry,” Pickens said matter-of-factly. “You’re in the same spot again. You have the cheapest energy in the world, but the leadership in Washington doesn’t understand that, and if the leadership in Washington did understand it, they could come up with a plan to rebuild the economy.”
Although Pickens bemoans legislative inaction, he does think that leaders are beginning to realize the importance of effectively harnessing our resources.
“I think Romney will have an energy plan, and Obama keeps talking about natural gas from time to time,” he said. “So they’re all aware, and we could have an energy plan in the next five to ten years.” One of the measures Pickens mentioned was a possible North American Energy Alliance comprised of the United States, Canada and Mexico.
A strong plan is only part of the solution, however. The other part is strong individuals, especially mentors, because it is they who form the next Greatest Generation. Pickens related a humorous memory about one of his own mentors, a high school basketball coach whom the team nicknamed “TG.”
“He didn’t know what TG stood for. It was tough gut – but nobody every told him what we called him behind the scenes – but he was real good,” Pickens laughed. “He never used a board on you; he just kicked you in the ass. He was very accurate.”
The comments given by T. Charles Pierson, the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and most recent inductee into the T. Boone Pickens Hall of Fame for mentoring, were of a soberer nature.
“When you are recognized, you’re humbled because it’s only because of so many people that made that recognition possible,” Pierson said quietly. “Those who have fallen 11 years ago, this is so fitting for each one of us because every one of us as men and women here to day are who we are because of many people who made sacrifices for us to be who we are.”
The last speaker, former Secretary of the Army Peter Geren, tied the various topics discussed over lunch into an inspiring address about the American Spirit and a tribute to the men and women who, for centuries have made that possible.
“When I first went to work for the Department of Defense in September of 2001, my office looked at the North East toward the Potomac River, at the Capitol, the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument,” began Geren. “That was my view. The view was magnificent and inspiring, particularly for someone who spent most of his life in government politics – legislative branch and law.
“For me at that time, and for most Americans, I suppose, the Capitol and the landmarks that frame our Mall mentioned the story and foundation of our country, and that’s where most of us go when we go to Washington.
“My second week at the Pentagon was September 11th, 2001. At 9:37 that morning the American Airlines 757 slammed in the west face of the building killing 189 people and wounding scores more. That morning I watched Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines go to the sound of the explosion, and for eight years I watched them go off to war. I was inspired by the service of those soldiers, and I was humbled by the sacrifice of those families. But that experience – I didn’t realize right away – but from that moment on, my perspective began to change and so did my view.
“When I became secretary of the Army in 2006, I lost my view of the National Mall. My window faced Arlington Cemetery and the waves of chalk headstones that lined the rolling hills and marked the graves of generations of Americans who served our nation in times of war and in times of peace. Outside my window every day, horse-drawn and flag draped caissons carried our nation’s heroes to their final resting place and, if it had not been for the bomb proof windows, I would have heard the mournful tune of taps throughout the day and the crack of rifles fired in salute at those funerals.
“Arlington is filled with the graves of more than three hundred thousand of our honored dead. It’s also the place where the ideal of selflessness and sacrifice live strong, and that ideal itself of sacrifice is celebrated throughout the day, everyday. And that is the spirit that gave birth to our nation and sustains our freedom today.”