Monday, October 1, 2012

Military Monday - A Message to Garcia

A Message to Garcia was never meant to be the inspirational piece that it has become. The author, Elbert Hubbard, penned the short story to fill an empty space in the March 1899 publication of his magazine, The Philistine. Before he knew it, he was receiving request after request for his short story to be printed in pamphlet form. Employers all over the world wanted their employees to read A Message to Garcia.

In the story, Hubbard tells the story of Lt. Andrew Rowan, who was chosen by President McKinley to carry a message to General Calixco y Inigues Garcia, leader of the rebel Cuban troops at war with Spain in 1898. Rowan was assigned to find General Garcia in the wilds of Cuba, announce the support of the U.S. and find appropriate points of debarkation for U.S. troops. All of this without being captured by Spanish troops.

A heroic event in and of itself. But the journey was not what Hubbard highlighted in his story. He chose instead to celebrate the "how" of Rowan's journey. Rowan did not ask the President how to find Garcia, where he was, how to carry the message, how to charter a boat. He just did it. Without questions, without complaint, without issue. This commitment to duty was his true legacy.
Colonel Andrew S. Summers
You'll find A Message to Garcia on many military reading lists and its story resonates even today. Lt. Rowan was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel for his bravery. He retired from the Army as a Colonel in 1909 and he died in 1943. Hubbard, the author, was a successful businessman and leader in the Arts and Crafts movement. He and his wife were killed aboard the Lusitania.

Read A Message to Garcia with a special preface by the author here. You can read Lt. Col. Rowan's version of the the story here.

3 comments:

Nancy said...

Heather, how did you ever find this story? I have never heard of it before - and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it's so interesting how different the language was in 1899 compared to our language. Thanks so much for sharing it. I wish we could see scans of the original - either as printed in the newspaper or in booklet form. Thanks so much for sharing this!

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

This short story is on the Army's professional development reading list. I loved it when I first read it...it was so eloquently written. I have a 1914 version of the pamplet, I'll scan it in a post for you to see.

Nancy said...

Thanks, Heather. I'll look forward to it.