A chance to get caught up

There are many great things about the Herald-Star Speaker Series.

The biggest, of course, is that we have been able to bring some very interesting people to town. You might or might not have agreed with their message, but each has offered a pretty unique perspective on a topic that has been of great interest.

And that’s what the series has worked hard to do since its inaugural presentation on Nov. 14, 2012.

We’ve had 10 presentations during those seven-plus years. Each of the speakers has enjoyed the events and each has appreciated the time — no matter how brief — he or she was able to stay in town.

It’s interesting from time to time to look back on what some of those who spoken in Steubenville have been up to. We have been reminded of that a couple of times during the last week or so.

For one, Michael Hayden, it was a birthday.

The Pittsburgh native turned 75 on Tuesday. It was another milestone for a brilliant man who continues to recover from a rough period in his life. The retired four-star Air Force general suffered a stroke in November 2018. He’s still battling back and is not afraid to share his thoughts about the state of the world and President Trump. He’s not a fan of the president and of the way things are being run by the current administration.

Some of his most recent concerns centered around Trump’s State of the Union Address. Hayden did not think it was appropriate that Gina Haspel, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency — a job Hayden once held — was seen applauding at various times during that Feb. 4 speech, especially during comments about domestic issues.

“I never did that. That wouldn’t be right,” Hayden told Politico, according to the Washington Times.

When it comes to questions about national security matters, Hayden knows what he is talking about.

He served as director of the National Security Agency from 1999-2005, as the first principal deputy director of national intelligence from 2005-2006 and as director of the CIA from 2006-2009.

His talk in Catholic Central High School’s Lanman Hall on April 27, 2017, was well attended and offered an overview about world politics and the role the United States should play. Some of the discussion was based on his best-selling book, “Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror.”

That presentation was not Hayden’s first speech in the city — on May 12, 2012, he delivered the commencement address at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and received an honorary doctorate of public administration.

Hayden’s birthday was not the only bit of news about a former speaker in the series.

Rebekah Gregory and her husband, Chris, were the first two contestants on the new season of the NBC television game show “The Wall,” which aired March 15.

If you haven’t seen the show, which is hosted by Chris Hardwick and lists LeBron James as an executive producer, it basically combines a trivia contest with a pachinko machine and offers contestants a chance to win millions of dollars before the hour comes to an end.

Gregory is a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013. She lost a leg as a result of injuries she received that day, but has refused to let that slow her down and now travels the country sharing her story of resilience and drive to do whatever it takes to overcome adversity.

“I’m often referred to as a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing,” she writes on her website. “I refuse to see myself as a victim. I am a survivor.”

She found a receptive audience waiting when she brought that message to the stage in the Steubenville High School auditorium on April 16, 2015. Since then, she has written a book, “Taking My Life Back,” and, along with her husband, has created the Rebekah’s Angels Foundation, which, according to her website, provides mental health treatment to children and families suffering from trauma.

No spoilers about “The Wall” here. You’ll have to wait for a repeat or watch it on-demand to see how the couple did.

From the first presentation by Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin to last fall’s appearance by Matthew Charles, the speaker series has delivered on its promise of bringing great speakers to town at a price that is affordable. Our expectation was that our next speaker would have appeared this spring, but recent events in the news have made that impossible.

The series offers a chance to enjoy an evening out and get a fresh perspective on world events that are detailed by the people who are best able to tell the stories — the people who have actually lived them.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)


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