The other night, I attended a retirement dinner for Command Sergeant Major Stephen D. Blake, and came away inspired by a man who should be a model for all of us.
I will leave the recitation of his amazing career in the US Army to those who are better qualified; suffice it to say that it is a record of accomplishment that anyone would have a right to be proud of. What really stood out to me as comrades in arms spoke of him was that rising far above accomplishment was a man who dedicated himself to helping others and putting them above himself. CSM Blake demonstrated above all his love and dedication to his soldiers, and was always willing to do whatever it took to see it to it that they were taken care of.
This pattern of behavior extended outside of Army duties, as he is well known throughout the Quad City community as a man who helps others without caring about who gets the credit. Whether it might be young people, Gold Star Families or complete strangers, CSM Blake is a guy who cares about people. My own brief experience with him bears this out. I remember that a few years back, when he heard that we were having a problem with our roof, he appeared at the house and got up there to fix it (in November, no less) having no interest in any recompense. A few months later, he showed up at the house to do a major plumbing repair because he heard that we had a problem in the basement… Who just does things like that?
Someone who cares about helping other people.
The dinner that I was honored to attend was attended by three General Officers and one city Mayor, in addition to all of the others. They came to honor a man who had earned their gratitude and respect like few others, and each highlighted his unselfish desire, drive really, to help other people and to take care of his soldiers. To my mind, however, the greatest tribute came from CSM Blake himself, although it was unintentional. When it was his turn to speak he said:
“I would like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for using me as a tool for freedom and for good.”
I doubt there was a dry eye in the room.
An attitude like that tells much about a man. May it be ours as well, no matter what our profession or circumstances may be.
Thank you Sergeant Major for your service to America, and for being someone who inspires us all!