Tuesday, July 27, 2021
James Mattis Praises ‘Post Traumatic Growth’
“It’s great to be with you in this piece of heaven,” Ret. Gen. James Mattis told Higher Ground supporters. “The most beautiful cathedral in the world is these mountains. And we come together to help one another find a better version of ourselves in these Rocky Mountains.”
Tuesday, July 13, 2021


Gen. James Mattis noted that he was deeply troubled about the partisanship that is dividing the country that he served for more than four decades as a Marine and as Secretary of Defense. But he brightened as he praised Higher Ground, which uses therapeutic recreation to restore the spirits and confidence of America’s wounded veterans.

“Higher Ground exemplifies what’s most needed in our country—a coming together for the good. They focus on veterans post traumatic growth instead of post traumatic disorder,” he told those at Higher Ground’s annual Hero’s Journey fundraising dinner.

“Today our country faces challenges. We can’t seem to find common ground to work together. Higher Ground encourages us to work together,” he added.

“Don’t call me general anymore,” said Ret. Gen. James Mattis, posing for a photo with Hayward and Jeannine Sawyer. “I’m back west of the Rockies. I left my titles behind when I left D.C.”

About 200 people—half the normal crowd due to COVID precautions—gathered under a tent on the spacious lawn of Elaine Wynn’s home north of Ketchum for the fundraiser. Another group watched Mattis’ talk livestreamed to a picnic in Golden Eagle where they also had the opportunity to hear from former NFL Coach Jim Mora and NFL wide receiver Mark Pattison, who just returned from successfully climbing the world’s seven highest mountains.

Supporters bid more than $100,000 on seven live auction lots with the high bid of $23,000 going to a two-hour hike with Ret. Gen. Mattis at Adams Gulch.

Two supporters each bid $15,000 on a Jamaican getaway while others bid $13,000 for a Special Ops Sniper experience and $11,000 on a Napa Valley wine package. A Wine to Fork Pairing featuring the dinner by Vintage Restaurant Chef Rodrigo Herrera brought $16,000, while a flight aboard a World War II P-51 Mustang went for $5,000.

Mattis noted that building a democracy is hard work but that it’s noble work, too.

Candace Emsiek, who joined Beth Willis at the Honor Wall, said she loves volunteering with youngsters in Higher Ground’s adaptive ski program, in addition to saluting its veterans’ programs.

“We’re born free by accident. And we live free by our choice to live in America,” he said. “We have a responsibility to hand that over to our daughter or son in as good or better condition than we inherited it.”

Mattis described an incident in Afghanistan during the summer of 2004 when temperatures hovered around 126 with 90 percent humidity. American troops were fighting in an area the size of North Carolina, outnumbered in many areas, when a prisoner was brought to him.

The man, who had spent two years in London and spoke perfect English, had tried to blow up American troops with an IED. After he ranted against America, he looked at Mattis and asked, “Am I going to jail for this?”

“Oh yes, for a good long time,” Mattis replied.

A native of Pullman, Wash., Ret. Gen. James Mattis is now the Davies Family Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He recognized those who have sacrificed their lives for their country.

“Do you think if I’m a model prisoner I and my family can immigrate to America?” the prison responded.

“America has two great powers: Inspiration and intimidation,” Mattis told the audience. “We use intimidation to keep safe. But better yet the power of inspiration. Even when we have our own challenges, remember that we’re still the best country. And remember the power of our country to inspire. Here this man was trying to kill us a moment before. Then he wanted to immigrate to our country.”

Mattis held a meet and greet with attendees during the cocktail hour in which he fielded questions from the audience.

“People asked me why I worked for Mr. Trump. I didn’t. I worked for the constitution,” said Mattis who resigned after two years as Secretary of Defense. He later said that Trump was the first president in his lifetime who had tried to divide rather than unite the American people.

Dean Comley was on hand to play the trumpet to sound the call for dinner.

“I don’t care whether you go to a synagogue or saloon. Every one of you is worth it. This country will come back together,” he added.

Asked about Critical Race Theory, Mattis noted that no one cared about what race someone was when the chips were down in a firefight. Marines are not black or white, he noted, only different shades of green.

Asked about Afghanistan, Mattis said the United States should not pull out. America has not lost a troop in the past 16 months, while it has lost police in New York City.

“There are going to be disheartening headlines about what is happening to kids over there, to education over there. But the reasons we’re at war have not been explained well by jour leadership so we’re pulling out.”

Mattis said that the only country that can help Russia Is America and under Putin that will never happen. There are three ways to deal with threats from China and Russia, he added: Allies, allies, allies.

“Russia’s only Ally is Belarus. China’s is North Korea. How do you like that for allies?”

Mattis rebuked Trump’s handling of the pandemic. He recounted how President George H.W. Bush assembled a 100-nation coalition to liberate Kuwait from Iraq in 1991, how his son George W. Bush had led a fight against AIDS and worked with the G-7 to prevent a global financial crisis from causing a worldwide depression and how Barack Obama led the world in stopping the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

“Then COVID comes along and we don’t lead. America doesn’t lead and all hell breaks loose,” he said. “My biggest concern now is what Americans are doing to each other. We’ve forgotten our fundamental respect for one another. One of reasons I’m here is that I support any group that pulls America together.”

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