Harry C. Stonecipher
The Boeing Company
"Doing Things Right"
American-Israel Chamber of Commerce
Dinner Honoring Harry Stonecipher
New York, NY
March 06, 2002
Thank you very much, Moshe. This means a great deal to me. It's not just that you folks would cook up a special award for me - and then see fit to give me this very handsome sculpture. I am really touched to see so many old and good friends here. It may seem a little odd for me to have a speaking role at what is, so to speak, my own memorial service. But, then again, I have always liked to have the last word.
Chaim Weizmann once said, "A people does not get a country on a silver platter," and he was certainly right about that. Nothing has come easy for your people. It has taken immense vitality and fortitude just to survive, but there is a good side to that, too, because those two qualities - vitality and fortitude - are strikingly present in so many Israelis. That is something that has struck me again and again over the course of many trips to Israel.
I keep a plaque on my desk that says, "I never gave 'em hell. I just told them the truth and they thought it was hell." As many of you probably know, that's a quote from Harry Truman, a steadfast friend of Israel and - to my way of thinking - a great president. Truman was the best kind of leader. He was concerned not just with doing things right, but with doing the right thing. Truman was doing the right thing when - against the advice of his own State Department - he made the courageous decision in 1948 to become the first world leader to recognize Israel.
As I see it, Boeing, over many years, has done the right thing in developing an exceptionally strong business base in Israel, which has increasingly included strong partnership relationships with Israeli companies across a wide array of programs. Working together, we have made significant contributions to Israel's freedom and security, to her economic and technological development, and to the freedom of her people to indulge their well-known passion for travel.
There are often risks in doing the right thing, but there are also known and dependable benefits. One of them is the strength that comes with integrity - and, indeed, that is impossible without it. Another is being able to build the only kind of relationships that will stand the test of time, which is to say, ones that are based on mutual respect, trust and a genuine sense of concern for the other party.
That is the kind of relationship that has existed, and that exists today, between Boeing and its customers, suppliers and partners in Israel. I am proud to have been part of building that, and yet I am absolutely confident that it does not require Harry Stonecipher in order to continue far into the future.
As for me, I go off into the not so dark night of retirement fortified by many friendships. That certainly includes present company in this room. I would like to close then with a simple poem from William Butler Yeats.
Think where a man's glory most
Begins and ends
And say my glory was I had