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"Don't speak ill of your predecessors or successors. You didn't walk in their shoes." ~ Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Rumsfeld

No-nonsense Secretary of Defense Donald Henry Rumsfeld (1932-) was born on this day in Chicago, Illinois. He married his high school sweetheart, Joyce, over 50 years ago.

A Princeton University graduate and former U.S. Navy aviator, he has served the government since the Eisenhower administration, making him an experienced and powerful member of George W. Bush's cabinet.

"Man and the turtle are very much alike. Neither makes any progress without sticking his neck out," he once said. The Secretary follows a collection of maxims called "Rumsfeld's Rules."

Called "the Articulator in Chief" by the Washington Post and "the media star of America's new war," by CNN, "Rummy" was Gerald Ford's secretary of defense (1975-1977) and Middle East advisor to Ronald Reagan.

"Public servants are paid to serve the American people. Do it well," Rumsfeld said.

Calling for "new ways of thinking, new ways of fighting" and determined to overhaul the Pentagon glut, Rumsfeld said, "If you ran a business this way, you'd go broke awfully fast."

The war hawk has stood toe-to-toe with his critics and has been a beacon of controversy, opening the Pentagon the day after the 9/11 terrorist attack and taking heat for his coordination of the Iraqi War. Some claimed Rumsfeld's war plan was thin on material and troops.

He said, "Amidst all the clutter, beyond all the obstacles, aside from all the static, are the goals set. Put your head down, do the best job possible, let the flak pass, and work towards those goals."

Honor continuity and understanding. Build.