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Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld at Bryce Harlow Foundation Award for Tom Korologos
Remarks by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Thanks, Mr. [Gregg] Ward, [Chairman, Bryce Harlow Foundation], Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, [Chaplain of U.S. Senate] It’s a pleasure to be with you all.

As many of you know, Tom [Korologos, Chairman, Executive Committee of Timmons and Company] and I go back a long way – a very long way -- farther than I care to admit.

And I’ve been proud to watch as, over the years, Tom has become a living Washington institution.

He is so famous for working around outside the Senate Chamber that he is known by the insiders as the 101st Senator. Indeed, he has spent so much time in those hallowed halls that -- as one Senator put it – "I was in the Senate three months before I realized Korologos wasn’t a statue."

But all that experience does come in handy, and it has helped me from time to time – not least in my confirmation hearings. His advice for courtesy calls was "get in, listen, get out – it worked. Thank you, Tom.

But it really is an honor to be here tonight. I knew Bryce Harlow.[aide to Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon] Bryce Harlow was a friend of mine. And let me tell you, you’re no . . . rather than saying you’re no Bryce Harlow, I can say that you are as close to a Bryce Harlow as one can be.

I’m told that Tom once tried to give away the position of Secretary of Defense. One time, in the Nixon White House, when the President was away, Tom Korologos and Dick Cook [aide to President Nixon] passed the Oval Office and saw the door open and went it. Tom sat in the President’s seat and Dick sat in the guest chair.

Tom, playing the President, said "Well, what position do you want?" Cook said: "Secretary of State." Tom replied, "That’s gone but I can give you Secretary of Defense."

After a few indiscreet remarks and some laughs, a Secret Service agent ran in and asked them to leave the Oval Office. A year later, Tom found out about the voice-activated recording device in the room.

He perhaps had a difficult time explaining that to Leon Jaworski [Watergate Special Prosecutor].

It is a delight to be here to help honor a man who has served the American presidency -- and its occupants -- so well and contributed so much to our country.

The office of the President endures because of professionals like Tom Korologos, who can see the other man’s point of view, and who understands that – despite differences – we do, in fact, need to work together.

On the day I was sworn in, in the Oval Office, Tom was there along with President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

I turned to the Vice President and said, "I remember a man we both worked with in this office, Bryce Harlow. Bryce once said the responsibility of every assistant to the President was to leave this house stronger than when we came in."

Well, Tom Korologos has been living up to that challenge for four decades. Everything he has touched has ended up better than when he started – except possibly [wife] Ann [McLaughlin], and she was unimprovable.

And we should also take note of Tom’s sidekick for so many decades, our friend Bill Timmons [Chairman Emeritus of Timmons company]. He too is a Washington institution.

Like many of you, I’ve spent years in business as well as in government. I have to say that it’s probably a toss-up as to which has more meetings.

 

Understanding what has gone before can be crucially important – and for all those who follow. I think it was George Will who once said of Washington, D.C., "We need more people in this town who have read the minutes of the last meeting."

Bryce Harlow was a man who had read the minutes of the last meeting.

    • He understood the issues;
    • He knew the pitfalls to avoid;
    • He knew the people with whom he was dealing;
  • And he always – always – conducted himself with the utmost honor and integrity.

 

For over 20 years now, the Bryce Harlow Foundation has been honoring men and women whose characteristics of leadership -- high ethical standards, and contributions to business and government -- exemplify the Bryce Harlow spirit. Men and women who -- by their example -- show the current generation that it is important to read the minutes of the last meeting and pass the knowledge on to all who come after.

I can think of no better way to honor Bryce Harlow than by honoring Tom Korologos. Tom, you are a superb model for us all -- a consummate professional and a solid friend.

Congratulations. Tom, join me.