As Cambria’s 2015 Citizen of the Year Greg Sanders said at a Jan. 12 ceremony paying tribute to him and his co-honoree/wife, Teri Sanders, “Honors like this cause the recipients to reflect on how it is that they arrived at a point like this in their lives.”
At the well-attended banquet, Teri Sanders chose to let her attorney husband answer that for both of them.
The couple received the traditional Citizen of the Year award in clock form, along with several standing ovations and a fistful of certificates from legislators’ representatives and county Supervisor Bruce Gibson.
After glowing introductions by friends and American Legion associates Mel McColloch and Mike Thompson, who focused on the long list of the couple’s public service and other accomplishments, Greg Sanders quipped that “I’m supposed to be a heartless shark of a lawyer who cares about nothing but making money. Mel, Mike, I think you have ruined my professional reputation!”
Sanders credited many for helping him and his wife achieve the Cambria Chamber of Commerce honors, but especially their parents, his training in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, and his association with such mentors as Major Gen. Albert Milloy, from whom Sanders said he’d learned leadership, management and compassion.
Sanders described himself when he went to Vietnam: “I was a brash, arrogant, cocky and self-absorbed young lieutenant fresh out of officer candidate school.” He said Milloy had taught him how to be a real man who cares for and about others, especially those who have the least and need the most.
Sanders learned from Milloy, his father and others that caring and helping were simply the right things to do, and that “the measure of a man is not taken in the firepower he commands, the medals he has been awarded, the rank he has achieved or, in civilian life, the money he has accumulated or other tangible evidence of wealth, power and fame that we tend to use to grade a person’s worth in the 21st century.
“The measure of a real man is taken in willingness to sacrifice a little for others who are anonymous, who may have been dealt a bad hand, who are the least of us but who are, after all, humans with hopes and aspirations just like the rest of us.”
Sanders said he and his wife are “profoundly lucky … to have had been born to really good parents and have had some good mentoring along the way” and “to have been born in a country that has given us, our parents and ancestors so many opportunities and the freedom to pursue them.”
“We owe them something” to thank them for those opportunities and “all of this that has been handed to us on a silver platter,” Sanders said, closing with a well-loved quote from the late President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”