On Veteran’s Day

Greetings.  Several of the regular readers of this blog fondly recalled the post on my Dad that I wrote last Veteran's Day and suggested that it might be meaningful and fun to republish it for newer subscribers.  So here it is–the very first "encore" appearance of a post in the 15-month history of the Surrounded by Geniuses blog.

Originally published on November 11, 2009… 

Greetings.  The weeks before Thanksgiving are a great time to pause and think about all we have to be thankful for.  And even in today's challenging economic environment, this simple "exercise" seems to put most things in perspective.  So when the topic came up on this morning's drive to school, our ten year-old son Noah was quick to point out that he was thankful for his family "because family is the most important thing."  And he added that on Veteran's Day, he was "really thankful for Grandpa" who at the young age of 85 is a very important part of our lives.  He then recalled a story that is part of our family's history and our collective good fortune, because none of us would be here today if Grandpa had not made it through World War II alive.  

Grandpa, a.k.a. "Fast Eddie," or now he prefers "Not So Fast Eddie", enlisted in the Air Force to fight in World War II at the age of 17.  He would become a Tech Sergeant and radio operator on a B-24 stationed in southern Italy.  From there, he and his crew would fly and survive 47 bombing missions over Germany, Austria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.  I mention "survive" because this was an assignment fraught with danger.  After slightly more than a month of flying, his plane–the "Forever Amber"–would become the lead plane in their ten plane squadron.  A distinction earned when the other nine planes were shot down.  But the flight of greatest interest to Noah has always been the one in which Grandpa made the wise decision to go to the bathroom.  To do this, he would have to leave his seat right behind the cockpit and head back to the catwalk of the plane's bomb bay.  Moments later he would return to his position only to find that his seat had been blown away by enemy fire.  Needless to say, Grandpa was very relieved that he had relieved himself.

"I'm very thankful that Grandpa had to go to the bathroom," Noah would conclude at the end of the latest telling of the story.  "That was genius!"

"I'd have to agree," I replied.

"Because if Grandpa hadn't peed he would have died.  Isn't that right?" he continued.  

"I'd have to agree again," I responded with real gratitude.

"And you wouldn't be here, would you Papa?  And I definitely wouldn't be here!  And that makes me always thankful for Grandpa."

That, and the fact that he's a wonderful grandfather.

Grandpa Photo
On this Veteran's Day here in the U.S., and on similar days in whatever country you live in, please take the time to show your respect to those men and women in uniform who sacrifice so much to protect us and defend the freedom we hold dear. And even if you don't always agree with the conflicts they fight in, always let them know that you honor their service above self.

We succeed in business and in life by being willing to do whatever it takes to protect those we choose to serve.  Maybe we can learn more than we ever imagined from those who are willing to put their lives on the line–knowing how fine the line is between life and death.

And heartfelt thanks to my Dad, the call of nature, and all of the veterans and active duty military personnel around the world who serve us.  May the year ahead bring you closer to peace.


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