those of you in chicago and illinois have probably heard that a young man named jonathon monken was appointed to head the illinois state police, and decision by governor pat quinn that surprised quite a few people around town, and has stirred up a bit of local debate. jon is 29 years old and served as an army captain in iraq, where he commanded tank combat missions and trained iraqi soldiers. he wasn’t a police officer,
though, and his lack of law enforcement experience is where some are directing their skepticism.
i blogged about jon three years ago, and i’ve known him since we were in junior high school together. we’re in a wedding together next year, assuming his new position allows him to attend. i’m glad i wrote about him back then, because what i wrote then was unmotivated by any need to justify him to the world, and yet the sentiment then was the same as it now. he’s an incredible guy, plain and simple.
jon and his family got news of this appointment just a few days after jon’s sister gave birth to her first child, and i couldn’t be happier for all of them. no family deserves such good fortune more.
since it kind of sums up my thoughts, i’ll repost the comment i left on one of the articles linked above:
I’ve known Jon since we were children, and I can assure you that the man is the most honest, respectful, hard working, and ethical person I’ve ever met. He is mature beyond his years…he was the one who seemed to understand character and humility before the rest of us could define those words. He was and has always been a grounded, morally-focused gentleman; a guy who I use as the standard for the word “gentleman”, in fact.
I have met a lot of young men and women in my life who made me feel like they were interested in a front row seat at the table where big decisions were made. We all know them…the people who, even in high school or college, have a future in the public eye on their mind. They measure their social decisions and they participate in student government or charity fund raising, but you sense that their core motivation might be selfish or a mixture of self- and civic-interest. That was never a question with Jon, who was raised by two incredible parents who seemed to radiate the notion that the most important thing a person could be was humble, honest, and dedicated to making the world a better place. A gathering at their home almost refreshed your confidence in the world.
I want to be clear…Jon took that upbringing and became a fierce man who excelled in the military and became a leader of men in uniform overseas. If you have the pleasure to meet him you will see a guy who seems to see right through you, a pleasant fellow who listens with intent and youthful curiosity, but who will not be shaken or discouraged. Courage can be a funny word sometimes, in that we don’t always know where the standard lies. Am I a courageous person? I hope so. With Jon there simply is no doubt.
And a courageous person is the only kind fit to lead a troop of equally courageous men.
Give him a chance. Jon Monken is exactly what the state of Illinois needs more of.