As John Kelly leaves his position as White House chief of staff, it’s worth considering just how much this good man has given to the nation.
Because it’s just about everything.
A Marine who chose to enlist during the Vietnam War, Kelly then went onto college to complete his education. After graduating, Kelly took a commission as an infantry officer. He would wear the uniform of the Corps for the next 41 years, commanding forces in Iraq and rising to the rank four-star general. His sons would follow their father’s tradition of military service, with one, Robert F. Kelly, giving everything for the nation in Afghanistan in 2011.
Many might have decided to enjoy the peace of retirement following such long service and striking loss. But not Kelly. Following his military retirement, Kelly rejoined government as secretary of Homeland Security. While some in the media have derided Kelly’s time in this role, he was greatly respected by those under his command and he cut through the often lethargic bureaucracy governing deportations.
That said, it is Kelly’s concluding tenure as White House chief of staff that perhaps best encapsulates his relentless love of country. After all, how many of us would have wanted to take up the position Kelly did on July 28, 2017? It was obviously going to be an almost impossible responsibility: ensuring the effective administration of the president’s inner team, managing the president’s time and priorities, and ensuring that cabinet officers were working effectively. And how must Kelly have felt about the backbiting and leaks from White House staffers? These characteristics bear little in common with military ethos. Yet as defines him, Kelly chose to keep serving.
Let us hope that he can now enjoy many years of relaxation with his family.