Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr, 1924 - 2010

portrait of Alexander Haig
Official portrait as Secretary of State (circa 1981)
Alexander Haig signature
177

Born: 2 December 1924, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: 20 February 2010, Baltimore, Maryland

The second of three children, raised by his mother after his father died when Al was ten. He graduated from Lower Merion High School at Ardmore, Pennsylvania, studied at Notre Dame for two years, then transferred to the United States Military Academy (West Point) where he graduated in 1947. He was on Douglas MacArthur's staff in Japan, he participated in and was decorated for valor in four campaigns in Korea. In 1950 he married MacArthur's daughter. He earned an MBA from Columbia Business School (1955) and a master's degree in international relations from Georgetown University (1961), his theses addressing the role of military officers in national policy. He was a staff officer at the Pentagon, then an assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, and took command of the First Infantry in Vietnam in late 1965, where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and a Purple Heart. He was Regimental Commander of cadets at West Point and then became an assistant to Henry Kissinger. Nixon promoted Haig to Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security, during which he helped negotiate the final Vietnam cease fire. In 1973 he was Vice Chief of Staff of the Army until Nixon tapped him as chief of staff. During this period he essentially was the acting president as Nixon was involved in his Watergate defense. Haig presided over the removal of Vice President Spiro Agnew and later the removal of President Nixon, apparently negotiating Nixon's pardon with Gerald Ford. He was Supreme Commander of NATO (1974 - 1979), then served as president and CEO of United Technologies, the first civilian job he held since high school. Reagan picked him to serve as Secretary of State (1981 - 1982), where he became well-known for "Haigspeak", a particularly verbose, obscure, and semantically strained style of rhetoric, some of which is evident in our quotes. He made a short-lived run for president in 1988. More recently he hosted two television programs discussing business topics, World Business Review and 21st Century Business. He was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital at Baltimore on 28 January 2010 for treatment of a staphylococcal infection, from which he died.

Biography from Wikipedia and New York Times obituary

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Alexander Haig quotes:

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