In our busy, day-to-day lives, it takes a formal day for us to pause and reflect. Memorial Day honors those that have died while serving in our armed forces. It is humbling that so many have given their lives in service. It is also remarkable that many have served and sacrificed with little fanfare. A formal day of remembrance is then a powerful force to help get us thinking and thankful.
On a drive between Phoenix and San Diego I stopped at the tiny town of Dateland. Arizona. On a marker there I read about a B-50 that crashed nearby in 1950 during training exercises. Twelve of the fourteen crew members perished in the crash. I have driven by that spot for over 20 years, ignorant of the story.
This week, a Wall Street Journal editorial noted that thousands of military contractors have died while supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The contractors (because they are not active service members) do not get military honors or benefits. They are often not counted in the tallies of the casualties of those conflicts.
Through my grandparents I met a World War II veteran. My grandfather introduced him as a hero. The man just shrugged his shoulders. Later I learned from a book on the subject* that he was part of an audacious group of paratroopers called Pathfinders. These troops (and this man I met) were tasked with parachuting behind German lines to provide navigation orientation for the troops to land at Normandy.
It is easy to be unaware of even great sacrifices.
While not on the scale of sacrifices honored on Memorial Day, in business it is easy to overlook the simple steady dedication of many of our team members. This is especially true if they are humble or self-effacing.
So let us on this Memorial Day, do thank and remember the sacrifices of service members and appreciate the astounding security and freedom that we enjoy as a result. Later this week also pause and appreciate those that quietly and diligently work with us.
*First to Jump by Jerome Preisler