A short story for the Biden Administration’s pandemic response leadership team

In February 2002 I was invited by one of my interns from Stanford University to a small dinner party of Stanford alum.  What I didn’t realize was that the National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice was also coming to dinner.  

There were many questions that night for Condi, but there was one question and answer I will never forget.

“What was your most emotional experience from 9/11?” 

“It actually happened several days after 9/11 at the National Cathedral.  As I walked into the cathedral for the memorial ceremony, I still remember the feelings in my heart: sadness for families who had lost loved ones, fear for what tomorrow might bring, and doubt about my ability to serve the President at this time of national crisis.  I don’t remember much about the ceremony that day, but I do remember the ending. We all stood and sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  As we sang, you could feel the entire mood change within the cathedral.  When I walked out, I left my sadness, fear, and doubt behind. I walked out with a mission…a mission to make America safe and secure.”