Rich Galen

Allow me a day of what, bragging? Whining? Maybe both.

Today I turn 65.

When I was a kid I don't think I knew anyone who was 65. I thought people who were 35 were old. When I was a kid 35 was the new 65.

I am not one of those people who rue birthdays that are divisible by five. Thirty, bothered me because it was the passage between being young and being a grownup, led by the fact that The Lad was born. None of the next six have given me pause.

This one didn't either, until last Thursday.

I pray I am not at the upper end of the last generation whose members could do anything they set their minds to or, as in my case, whatever fortune threw at my feet. I don't think so. I choose to believe that the best of America's good old days are still ahead.

I think I have recounted my dismal high school and college academic career. I went to Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio 45750 because it was the only place that accepted me - and at that I had been on the waiting list. Their hesitancy was well-founded as I was tossed out a year-and-a-half later for the sin of scoring three "Fs" a "B" and a "C" as my grades after my first semester as a sophomore.

The "B" was in English Comp which was a required course. I learned I could wake up on the day an assignment was due and, hung over or not, write an essay that generally received a B-ish grade. The realization that I had a knack for writing has stood me in good stead.

Getting thrown out of college led me to join the New Jersey, then Ohio, Army National Guard. That experience stood me in good stead 35 years later when I landed in Baghdad and got to spend the better part of six months around some of the best people on the planet: American Service Members.

I was the news director for radio station WMOA in Marietta; an experience which has stood me in good stead as a press secretary for all those years: I can smell a good story, and I know what I would have asked as a reporter, and so I have been able to help prepare my boss for whatever was coming at us.

First time I ran for city council I lost the primary by two votes. The next time my new (and still my) wife ran the campaign and I won with the highest vote total of anyone running in the 26 Marietta City precincts. That has stood me in good stead dealing with candidates and elected officials. When they said I didn't understand what it was like to have people you didn't know say bad things about you; I told them that, in fact, I did.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at