in all this cuban business there is one man stands out on the horizon of my memory like mars at perihelion.
when war broke out between spain and the united states, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the insurgents. garcia was somewhere in the mountain fastnesses of cuba - no one knew where.no mail or telegraph message could reach him. the president must secure his cooperation, and quickly. whatto do?
some said to the president, “there’s a fellow by the name of rowan who will find garcia for you, if anybody can.”
rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to garcia. how the “fellow by the name of rowan” took the letter, sealed it up in an oilskin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by nightoff the coast of cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the island, having traversed a hostile country on foot and delivered his letter to garcia - are things i have no special desire now to tell in detail. the point that i wish to make is this: mckinley gave rowan a letter to be delivered to garcia; rowan took the letter and did not ask, “where is he at?”
by the eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. it is not book learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing - “carry a message to garcia.”
general garcia is dead now, but there are other garcias. no man who has endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but has been well nigh appalled at times by the imbecility of the average man -the inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it.
slipshod assistance, foolish inattention, dowdy indifference, and half hearted work seem the rule; and no man succeeds, unless by hook or crook or threat he forces or bribes other men to assist him; or mayhap, god in his goodness performs a miracle, and sends him an angel of light for an assistant.
there is no month in the whole year, in which nature wears a more beautiful appearance thanin the month of august! spring has many beauties,and may is a fresh and blooming month,but the charms of this time of year are enhanced by their contrast with the winterseason.august has no such advantage. it comes when we remember nothing but clear skies,green fields and sweet smelling flowers when the recollection of snow, and ice, and bleakwinds, has faded from our minds as completely as they have disappeared from the earth andyet what a pleasant time it is! orchards and corn-fields ring with the hum of labour; treesbend beneath the thick clustersof ripe fruit, which bows their branches to the ground; and thecorn, piled in graceful sheaves, or waving inevery light breath that sweeps above it, as if itwooed the sickle, tinges the landscape with a golden hue. amellow softness appears to hangover the whole earth; the influence of the season seems to extend itself to the every wagon,whose slow motion across the well-reaped field, is perceptible only to the eye,
but strikes with no harsh sound upon the ear.
the olympics represents the noble ideal of sports overcoming the barriers of politics withchampion athletes of all nations gathering in the spirit of sportsmanship. however, the stakesgo beyond who wins the gold medal. shortly after each competition, nations begin to vieafresh for the bid to host the next game. winning the vote to host is not merely an honor, itis a political conquest in global recognition. it also spins revenue from the influx of tourists,participants and olympic related paraphernalia.
however, all that glitters is not gold. for some residents of beijing, the site of olympic 2008,the impact of winning the bid cuts deep and far into their personal lives. the capital isexpecting to pour billions of dollars into sports facilities and related upgrades such as roads,public transport, landscaping and sanitation. for the bustling city of bicycles and traffic jamstucked among imperial relics, the olympics is an opportunity for urban renewal.
yet for those within the areas, something must give way to make room for the model olympicvillage.
decades of family homes will be uprooted and dispersed among apartments on the outskirtsof the city. although modern plumbing and sanitation will replace chamber pots, the move isan upheaval of a community and its way of life and social dynamics. it will be interesting tofollow up on those and study the effects ofthe transplant.
the olympics upgrades are not disposable stage props that can be easily discarded after theshow. experts are afraid that without the heartbeat of ordinary people dwelling in the ancientcity, the high tech olympic city would become culturally dry. careful urban planning andstringent regulations such as building restrictions can preserve the impression of an intactneighborhood. nevertheless, without the residents, aesthetic is lost and only the facaderemains, waiting to be filled by tourists and businesses.
nonetheless who can begrudge anyone a more comfortable living environment? even withoutthe olympics, can the drumbeat of modernization be stopped? and whether the changes arefor better or worse, who should presume to judge such things other than those whose livesbear the brunt of the impact?