Salaam fellow Rotarians! I am delighted to report the details of our 22 October gathering.

President Jennifer Hara called us to order at 12:30 PM, leading American citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance. She turned to Nancy Riker for words of inspiration. Reading a passage from the Prayer of St. Francis, Nancy requested that when we hear the word “Lord,” we think of whatever higher power or inner truth each of us embraces:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace; 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 
Where there is injury, pardon; 
Where there is doubt, faith; 
Where there is despair, hope; 
Where there is darkness, light; 
And where there is sadness, joy. 

O Lord, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console; 
To be understood, as to understand; 
To be loved, as to love; 
For it is in giving that we receive…


After a hushed chorus of “Amen,” I introduced guests and Rotarians from other clubs joining us for lunch:

  • Riham Aryan, invited by Marjorie Scott;
  • Jack Coughlin, accompanying our guest speaker;
  • Marilyn Cruz, President of the DC Rotaract Club;
  • Alicia Fougere, Manager of Business Development at the Washington Center;
  • Jim Hamill, accompanying Gail Hamill;
  • Levi Leatherberry from the DC Rotaract Club;
  • Terrance Lovelady, Associate Relationship Manager at PNC Wealth Management;
  • Marcus Soriano, Professional Development Chair of the DC Rotaract Club;
  • Tina Beach, visiting from the Rotary Club of Kennewick, Washington;
  • Richard Hyde, who works in education and has been visiting of late from the St. Helena, California Rotary Club; and
  • Young Kimaro, an economist and Immediate Past President of the Mujika, Mt. Kilimanjaro Rotary Club in Tanzania which has just celebrated its fourth anniversary.

Before taking my seat, I reminded Red Badge members that recording the meeting in review is one of the tasks required to earn the coveted Blue Badge. So please, my friends, volunteer to cross this task off of your to-do list. My scribbling right hand will be grateful for the break!

President Jennifer asked Sargent-at-Arms Buz Gorman to congratulate Rotarians celebrating birthdays this week:

  • Alexander Kravetz on 19 October – Sponsored by Kimberly Kotnik when he joined our club in 2005, Foundation Board member Alexander’s classification is international development. On assignment in Iraq until the year’s end, we look forward to Alexander’s safe return!
  • Monica Smith on 24 October – Joining our club in 2012, sponsored by David Klaus, Monica co-chairs the Membership Committee and is a Board member. Her classification is program management-museum exhibitions.
  • Cherry Baumbusch on 25 October – A member since July, sponsored by Jennifer Hara, Cherry transferred from the McLean Rotary Club where she served as President during 2012-13. Cherry is an artist.

President Jennifer returned to the podium, calling on specific members to highlight upcoming activities and club news:

  • Nancy Riker shared our club’s original charter which she came across while she and Executive Director Gretchen Kearney tidied up the Rotary office last month. Nancy had the historical document framed and allowed us to pass it between tables for a closer look.
  • Nancy also explained that the Dictionary Project still needs volunteers even as Rotarians from other DC-based clubs are participating in school visits. Red Badge members are especially encouraged to volunteer. Please talk to Nancy if you are interested in assisting with delivery of dictionaries to DC’s third graders.
  • The DC Rotaract Club’s Professional Development Chair Marcus Soriano reminded us that a Networking Dinner is scheduled for 22 October at La Tasca on 722 7th Street, NW, giving Rotarians and Rotaractors an opportunity to learn more about one another over tapas. (Please note that this activity has already taken place.)  
  • Quentin Wodon passed out contribution pledge sheets for the Rotary International Foundation and listed five reasons to donate: (1) Our club receives money from the Foundation for international projects. (2) Contributions are tax deductible. (3) A donation of $100 on average per member is needed to keep our club eligible for global grants. (4) Each dollar contributed is multiplied due to the District’s and the RI Foundation’s matching grants. (5) Our club is near the bottom of our District in terms of giving.
  • Bill Dent invited Rotarians to attend the tree planting at Farragut Square—located at the intersection of K Street, I Street and 17th Street, NW—on Wednesday, 29 October at 11:30 AM. This planting reflects our club’s support through the Peter Gilsey Trees for the Capital Committee for the National Park Service to re-tree downtown parks.
  • President Jennifer pointed to the flyers on our tables inviting members to attend our District’s Rotary Foundation Recognition Dinner on Sunday, 2 November. She plans on attending and looks forward to hearing from the keynote speaker, Past Rotary International Vice President Ann Matthews—one of few women to reach such a high-level position within Rotary. Information about the location, price and time of this dinner is available on the District’s website,
  • Paula Delo reminded members that this month’s Happy Hour/Dine Around is on Thursday, 23 October at 6:00 PM. Due to popular demand, we are returning to Ris on 2275 L Street, NW. (Please note that this activity has already taken place.) And stay tuned for news of subsequent Dine Around dates and locations because members have requested that the taste-testing and socializing continue even amid falling winter temperatures.
  • Resident photographer Lisa Cohen offered a brief tutorial on how to gain access to the pictures she snaps during our meetings and special events. The photos may be dragged and dropped or copied from and are available via a link on our club’s website.

Christopher Kelly—America Invades…and Invasions Matter

President Jennifer introduced our guest speaker Christopher Kelly, co-author of America Invades: How We’ve Invaded or Been Militarily Involved with Almost Every Country on Earth. Chris has had a lifelong passion for military history. He came to know his co-author Stuart Laycock upon reading his 2013 book about Britain’s military history, All the Countries We've Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To. When Chris forwarded his review of the book to Stu, a friendship was struck. Over pints in London’s pubs, the two men decided to write a similar book from the American vantage point. The result was America Invades published in September.

As Chris detailed, their book dedicates a chapter to every country recognized by the United Nations to ask whether American forces have ever invaded or been militarily involved in some other way. They concluded that of 194 countries, American forces had invaded 84 when the book went to print—now 85 with the United States taking military action in Syria. Having invaded 43 percent of countries on earth, the American military has been somehow involved with almost every other country. Chris gave the example of Portugal as a country with which the United States has been militarily involved but has not invaded. Portugal has granted basing rights to the U.S. Air Force on the strategically located islands of the Azores off the Atlantic coastline since World War II.

Starting with the 1741 assault on Cartagena, Colombia by 3,600 colonial troops led by Royal Navy Admiral Edward Vernon (after whom President George Washington’s Virginia home is named) and bringing us to the ongoing U.S. actions in the Middle East, Chris took Rotarians on a geographically and historically expansive tour of American military engagements worldwide.

Invasions matter, Chris concluded, because they produce both foreseen and unforeseen consequences for the invading and invaded countries. On a personal but related note: As Chris wrapped up his remarks, my mind wandered to the region that has been the focus of my own work, and I could not help but think of the consequences wrought by almost 15 years of American military engagements in the Middle East and North Africa—in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. What will Chris and other military historians uncover when they study this epoch? And what lessons are to be learned? I am still wandering and wondering as the present unfolds and becomes our history.

Adjourned Until Next Week

As President Jennifer awarded our “Trees for the Capital” certificate to Christopher Kelly, Rotarians eagerly awaited news of who bought the lucky raffle ticket from Davis Kennedy. Upon hearing the winning numbers, May Gwinn popped out of her chair with the smile of surprise to claim the small pot of $54. Yet the $1,161 large pot again proved elusive and continues to grow.

Our gratitude goes to Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for welcoming visitors at the Hospitality Table.

On 29 October, President Jennifer will convene a Halloween Club Assembly as we celebrate Oktoberfest. She adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen—until next week!