The Washington Post accidentally published a photo with Defense Secretary James Mattis’ phone number in it back in May and a student noticed it.
The photo was removed from the paper’s website quickly. But it was up long enough for Teddy Fischer, 16, a sophomore from Mercer Island High School in Washington state to text Secretary Mattis an interview request.
Mattis answered and agreed.
“I never really thought it would work,” he said.
It did. Mattis called back, and not only scheduled the interview, but also spoke with the student for 45 minutes.
The high school’s student newspaper, The Islander, published the transcript of the wide-ranging interview, in which Mattis encouraged students to study history.
Fischer had the High School paper interview of a lifetime!
“I called it to see if it was him, because I was pretty curious if this is actually his number or is it kind of a joke,” Fischer told KING-TV in Seattle, saying that he recognized the voice, but was too shy to leave a message. Then he sent a text.
Teddy Fischer, obviously already having a professional grasp of the trade, asked some incredible questions.
TEDDY: What subject areas do you think students should be studying in high school and beyond to better prepare themselves to be politically active and aware adults?
MATTIS: Actually, I’ve thought a lot about that question. I would tell you that no matter what you’re going to go into, whether it be business or politics or international relations or domestic politics, I don’t think you can go wrong if you maintain an avid interest in history. The reason I say that is you’ll find that really, there’s nothing new under the sun, other than some of the technology we use.
TEDDY: What advice would you give to a current high schooler that is scared about what they see on the news and concerned for the future of our country?
MATTIS: Probably the most important thing is to get involved. You’ll gain courage when you get involved. You’ll gain confidence, you’ll link with people, some of whom will agree with you and some won’t, and as a result, you’ll broaden your perspective. If you do that, especially if you study history, you realize that our country has been through worse and here’s how they’ve found their way through that.
TEDDY: What will the nature of American warfare and conflict look like for my peers entering the military now and in the future?
MATTIS: There’ll be two fundamental thrusts I think. One is, some things will endure. The fundamental nature of war, you go all the way back to Thucydides who wrote the first history and it was of a war and he said it’s fear and honor and interest and those continue to this day. What he wrote over 2,000 years ago, 3,000 years ago, that still consumes people. That’s what I meant about studying history.
Read the rest of Teddy’s interview with Mattis at his HS paper, The Islander.
What an incredible opportunity. It is an honor when someone in a powerful position responds to a journalistic interview. This young man held his own with the best, including the courage to reach out to Mattis in the first place.
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