Memorial Day, 1988

May 27, 1988

On this Memorial Day we pause to mark the sacrifices that our fellow citizens have made over the years in defense of our Nation. There are few that have not been touched by the personal loss of a friend or relative.

What would our world be like today if our fallen comrades had returned with us to toil in our “real world” jobs? It is safe to imagine that the example they set, the dedication and self-sacrifice that first caused them to serve their country, and to eventually die for it, would have been the gift that they continued to give.

The causes that our fallen heroes sacrificed their lives for enabled the development of the free economy which we enjoy today. While most of our businesses are closed to commemorate this Memorial Day, the businesses that we build today and the dreams we have for tomorrow would not have been possible without their defense of our freedoms during the past century.

While our very existence gives testimony to our benefits from their sacrifice, we can profit further from their ideals. If they were still with us, I doubt if many of those we are honoring today would have been so selfish to be involved in the recent Wall Street scandals, employee theft or declining productivity. They had higher standards.

The men and women that didn’t return from our nation’s battles would have been our been our best leaders and most loyal employees. Strong business leadership would not have been so difficult to find had we not lost these precious resources along the way. The need for dedicated employees would not have been so great had the cause of freedom not been so costly.

I bet if they had returned to build their own business in the free economy that they made possible, it would be a great place to work. They would take a personal interest in their employees and recognize them for their contributions. They would understand the importance of the sacrifices that are made by the ordinary people that routinely meet their responsibilities on a daily basis.

They would create an environment in which people can have pride in their work. They recognize that even the lowest ranking foot soldier takes pride in a job well done. When everyone knows that what they are doing is important and worthwhile, battles are won and businesses can be built. Those we honor today understood that pride is a powerful force. They understood that it was the foot soldiers that really won the battles.

The hardships encountered by our military personnel over the years showed no favorites. Those who have battled obstacles together learned that discrimination and favoritism have no place on a winning team. Equality and fair treatment for all, men and women, young and old, black and white, brings out the best in all of us. When there is a job to do, it’s performance not pedigree that counts.

The men and women that we honor today had a sense of belonging. They experienced the “esprit de corps” that came with being part of their platoon, squadron or group. They would have cultivated that sense of belonging amongst their employees. They would let them contribute to and share in the success of the business.

If yesterday’s soldiers were today’s managers, they would be good listeners. Yesterday’s soldiers know better than anybody that there are tough problems that you have to endure, but having a boss who understands the hardships can make all the difference. While you may not always be able to do something about them, it is always important to listen to the gripes of an employee.

While those we honor today are gone, their comrades remain. Its a prejudice that I willingly admit to having practiced over the years. But when I look over the record of an individual, I keep an eye out for those who had the opportunity of having served their country. Because its your business, keep an eye out, some others might still need the chance to get their feet on the ground.



  1. Happy Memorial Day Joe…

  2. What a wonderful article for Memorial Day, for any year! I agree that many of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, would have been “our best leaders and most loyal employees.” I would like to honor some of the men who served with me and made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country. I knew these men and still remember and miss them like it was yesterday. There is no closer bond than with those with whom we shared combat.

    I’ll start with a fine Naval officer, LT Geoff Shumway, an extraordinary A7 pilot and a good friend, who was shot down on an alpha strike over North Vietnam in 1972. He had a great sense of humor. Less than a week before he was shot down, the Coral Sea visited Hong Kong. Geoff and his lovely wife spent a pleasant evening over a meal at a French restaurant with some fellow Marine officers and I.

    Captain David Williams was a combat seasoned bombadier navigator and mentor to me. On the Coral Sea, we trained in Martial Arts and talked about opening a bar outside the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station. We had sons the same age and often played bridge together with our wives prior to deployment. I remember David saying that he would see me after his mission on the fateful morning of the disappearance of his A6 on a bombing mission.

    Captains Roger Wilson and Bill Angus took off on an alpha strike one spring morning in 1972. My pilot Lt Col Brubaker and I had downed their A6 for some engine and ecm problems prior to the previous alpha strike 90 minutes prior to their launch. The ground crew got the A6 up for their fateful mission. Lt Col Brubaker and I joked with Roger and Bill in the ready room just before they took to the aircraft for the mission.

    Just as the bombs released from their airplane, the A6 suffered catastrophic wing failure. Enemy fire or metal fatigue, we will never know. Roger Wilson’s body was recovered in 1984 from the lake in which the plane crashed. Bill spent the next three years in Hanoi Hilton, where he met CDR John McCain. I have always thought “there but for the grace of God go I”.

    There is a story that goes with every fallen hero. We lost others on that epic cruise. Those are but a few of the stories. This country owes a great debt to both our fallen brethern and those who returned. Semper Fidelis!

    • Bruce,

      Thanks for taking the time to write a comment that is even more powerful than the original. I will keep your words permanently aligned with the article for all to read. Many thanks. I hope you are feeling better and that our paths get to cross again one day. s/f Joe D.

  3. Joe:

    Thank you for sharing this article on Memorial Day. As the daughter of a career Army soldier, I can attest to the various qualities that you point out in your article because I’ve seen them embodied in my father and in people like you, with whom I’ve had the privilege of working for and working with.

    Thank you!

    • Thanks Maria, good to hear from you. Give my best wishes to your parents.

      Joe D.

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