Quote of the moment: Mr. Mike’s everlasting humility

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, oil on canvas painting by Aaron Shikler, 1978 - Wikimedia image

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, oil on canvas painting by Aaron Shikler, 1978 - Wikimedia image

Beginning in March 1974 I had the great pleasure and high honor of interning with the Secretary of the Senate, Francis R. Valeo.  Valeo served because of his close relationship with the Majority Leader, Mike Mansfield, and working in Valeo’s office put one on the Mansfield team.  In an era before serious security with magnetometers in Washington’s public buildings — we didn’t even have photo identification cards then — Mike Mansfield’s signature on my staff card got me anywhere I wanted to go in Washington, including the White House.

People who knew Mansfield held him in very high regard.  I often tell people he was the best politician to work for, but in reality, he’s probably the best leader I ever worked with in any enterprise.  He respected every senator as a representative of the people of one of the 50 states, and that respect was returned.

In his office one afternoon he met with the a couple of members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the big bigwigs from the Pentagon.  Mansfield was a former sailor, marine and soldier — he had served in the Navy, Army and Marines.   He lied about his age the first time.  He had served in China and the Philippines, producing a life-long interest and deep expertise in U.S. affairs in the Pacific and Far East.

But this was 1974.  Mansfield had turned against supporting corrupt Vietnamese politicians early in the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.  Originally a supporter of Nixon’s policies, by 1974 his opposition to the war was the chief part of their relationship.  Still the military guys loved him.  An Army Colonel accompanying the group was anxious to explain to the young intern part of the mystique.

“You should see Mansfield in the formal meetings.  Everybody is always introduced, and their full rank is laid on the table.  ‘General Muckamuck.  West Point ’33, Columbia Law.  Admiral Bigship.  General Soandso, who recently got his third star.'”

“And then they get to Mansfield.  He’s the Senate Majority Leader.  And he introduces himself as ‘Mike Mansfield, Private First Class.'”

I asked Mansfield about it later.  He smiled, and said he might have done that a time or two.  He said that the big brass in the military need to remember as every senator does that they work for the American people.  Rank doesn’t make you right, he said.

Looking up a minor fact on Mansfield this morning I ran into this statement, which I’d never heard [quoting now from Wikipedia]:

This gentleman went from snuffy to national and international prominence. And when he died in 2001, he was rightly buried in Arlington. If you want to visit his grave, don’t look for him near the “Kennedy Eternal Flame”, where so many politicians are laid to rest. Look for a small, common marker shared by the majority of our heroes. Look for the marker that says “Michael J. Mansfield, Pfc. U.S. Marine Corps.”

Remarks by Col. James Michael Lowe, USMC, October 20, 2004.

The burial plot of Senator and Mrs. Mansfield can be found in section 2, marker 49-69F of Arlington National Cemetery.

For the sake of accuracy, I would like to know the occasion of Col. Lowe’s remarks, and who Col. Lowe is.  The link at Wikipedia is dead.  Does anyone know?


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15 Responses to Quote of the moment: Mr. Mike’s everlasting humility

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    At Marine Corps Weblog, I found this notice:

    Cpl. Beddoe says:
    2014/04/02 at 07:49

    Gen Gray, Mike and all of the Potomac Institute family,

    It is my sad duty to report to you that our good friend and comrade Colonel James Michael Lowe, USMC, Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities executed his final set of earthly PCS orders at 1800 today.

    Before Joining Potomac Institute Mike served his country as one of the best Marine Officers of his generation. We could write a book about Mike’s Marine Corps service, but I think the words of the 29th Commandant, Gen Al Gray, sum it up well “Mike is a very special Marine Warrior, one of a kind, who has made many significant contributions to our Country and to the Nation’s Corps of Marines. May God bless him and his family always.”

    Mike spent his entire post Marine Corps career as a member of Potomac Institute. Mike’s peerless leadership, intellect, work ethic and sense of humor made CETO the dynamic success it is and the place to work. Mike labored tirelessly for his Potomac Institute family and I can attest that Mike worked on our behalf until he could no longer lift his head and open his eyes.

    I will pass along information regarding Mike’s funeral and memorial service once known. In the interim I ask that you all keep Mike’s wife Susan and his children Jameson, Alexis and Shannon in your thoughts and prayers.

    Below is a speech that Mike gave when he was the Commander of Marine Corps Base Quantico, to a class of new second lieutenants at a Basic School Mess Night. Some of you may have seen the speech before because it was widely shared on the Internet and in news media. I believe it is worth the read. For those who served with Mike it will bring you a smile. For those who did not have the opportunity to know Mike on active duty it will give you a good idea about Mike Lowe the Marine.

    Very respectfully and Semper Fi,


    Mark Hauck
    Director, Marine Corps Programs

    Col. Lowe’s speech can be found there, too.

    At the site of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, I found that notice, along with these details:

    The Obituary for Retired Colonel James Michael “Mike” Lowe is now available on the Washington Post website. [Col. Lowe died March 21, 2014.]

    A memorial gathering will be held at Mountcastle Turch Funeral Home, 4143 Dale Blvd, Dale City VA 22193 on Thursday, April 3, 2014 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

    A life celebration service will be held on Friday, April 4, 2014 at the Quantico Marine Base Chapel, Quantico Virginia at 11:00 a.m. Interment will follow at Quantico National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, the USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment, or the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.

    The Potomac Institute will host a reception following the funeral service on Friday April 4 at The Globe & Laurel Restaurant, 3987 Jefferson Davis Highway, Stafford, VA


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Thank you for informing us of Col. Lowe’s passing. Is there an obit or story you could give us a link to?


  3. Colonel Mitzi Manning, USMC (Ret.) says:

    Colonel Mike Lowe, who quoted Senator Mansfield, and did in fact work in that office as a young officer, was a highly respected senior Marine officer, who passed away this week. It was way too soon, and we in the Corps who knew and respected him mourn deeply.


  4. […] “Quote of the Moment:  Mike Mansfield’s everlasting humility” […]


  5. […] “Quote of the moment:  Mr. Mike’s everlasting humility,” MFB […]


  6. Paul says:

    Mike Mansfield and my grandfather served in the Marines together in the late 1910s and remained close friends until my grandfather died in 1987. I sent Mike a letter informing him of my grandfather’s passing, and within a week of him receiving it, a Tokyo-postmarked handwritten letter of condolence arrived at my grandfather’s home. He never forgot who he was or where he came from. I met him but once, but will never forget him. He was an excellent man.


  7. […] Great tribute to Mike Mansfield If you come here often you may remember my views of my first real boss, Sen. Mike Mansfield, D-Montana. […]


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Here is a photo of Mansfield’s grave marker:

    Mike Mansfield's grave marker at Arlington National Cemetery

    Be sure to read the wonderful tribute to Mansfield by author James Grady, too.


  9. Ed Darrell says:

    Gee, Col. Lowe, I’m flattered you dropped by.

    Can you tell us — which set of your remarks is accurate? Verifying that is good for historical purposes. And if none of them are fully accurate, got a copy of a text, or a film or tape, we can post?

    I’m also curious — did you know Sen. Mansfield? How did you stumble on that story about him? I have to say that he was, in almost all ways, the best boss I ever worked for. Sadly, that was very early in my life.

    And then finally, will you accept my thanks for putting Mansfield’s story in such a fine form?

    Bring us up to speed on yourself, too: What are you doing these days? Any more speeches of yours we should know about? Any more stories we should be telling?

    Thank you.


  10. Col Mike Lowe, USMC (Ret) says:

    I am the “Col Lowe” you are look for. How may I assist you? Semper Fidelis, Mike


  11. Ed Darrell says:

    Another listing of the speech, with the eight points of leadership:


    Tip of the old scrub brush to Phyllis Coppolino.


  12. j a higginbotham says:

    The first reference came from a Google search for a non-quote delimited phrase taken from the text around the marker inscription. The hit was not searching Web but searching Books. [The same way a Google Books search turned up William Bruce Cameron as a more reasonable candidate for the putative Einstein/Pickering quote not so long ago.]

    The second and third just came from a Google Web search for Col James M Lowe and looking for legitimate sounding url’s. [The second came from then searching the Gazette for Mansfield.]


  13. Ed Darrell says:

    How did you find all that stuff?


  14. j a higginbotham says:

    Try page 277 of “Not As Lean, Not As Mean, Still A Marine, Marine Corps Sea Stories Vol 3” aka Not As Lean…Not As Mean…Still A Marine! Even MORE Sea Stories and Commentary (Paperback)
    by MSgt. Andrew A. Bufalo USMC (Ret)

    Note that the 8 snotty lessons are (perhaps not surprisingly) not included in this version.

    Or more authoritatively: Marine Corps Gazette – November 2006 – Ideas and Issues (Page 59)

    …common marker shared by the majority of our heroes. Look for the marker that says “Michael J. Mansfield, PFC U.S. Marine Corps.” You see, Senator Mike Mansfield, like each of us gathered here tonight was prouder of being a Marine than anything else in his… …


    WHEREAS, Colonel James M. Lowe was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in 1976 through the NROTC program upon graduation from the University of South Carolina; and

    WHEREAS, Colonel James M. Lowe embarked on an illustrious military career during which, among varied assignments, he served as an Infantry Officer with the 3rd Marine Division, 2nd Battalion, 4(ïï Marines in Okinawa, Japan; was a Series Officer and Personnel Officer at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina; completed a tour of duty in Beirut, Lebanon with the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force; and was assigned to Special Operations Command-Europe in Stuttgart, Germany; and

    WHEREAS, Colonel James M. Lowe earned personal awards including the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Gold Star; and

    WHEREAS, Colonel James M. Lowe assumed his duties as Base Commander, Marine Corps Base, Quantico, on August 22, 2003; and

    WHEREAS Colonel James M. Lowe provided outstanding assistance on issues critical to the County, including lending his expertise during the Base Realignment and Closure process; educating County staff about base transportation priorities to assist in obtaining state and federal funds to improve access to the base; and providing accurate base employment information for Stafford’s At Place Employment Report; and

    WHEREAS the Board desires to call public attention to the remarkable military career of Colonel James M. Lowe, and to wish him well in his retirement as he relinquishes his authority at a Change of Command Ceremony on July 17, 2006;

    NOW THEREFORE BE IT PROCLAIMED by the Stafford County Board of Supervisors on this the 21st day of March, 2006, that Colonel James M. Lowe be and he hereby is recognized and commended for his service to his Country and the citizens of Stafford County.


  15. Ed Darrell says:

    I found one source, undated, attributed Col. Mike Lowe, listed as “Commander of Marine Corps Base Quantico.”

    Marines will love it. Here:


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