The Gift Of Remembering
2017: Your Winning Season Part 4
It’s Memorial Day as I write this. Weird…because I write on this holiday, looking toward July 4th, which is about the time you’ll get this issue of Masonry Magazine (going first to my column, I know!) and reading it at that time.
But that word–“Memorial”—hangs out there, prompting me to actually remember the important things in life. Along with what the Day stands for, which is honoring the ultimate sacrifices others have made in the cause of freedom.
“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Edmund Burke (& others)
Something that’s really bugging me these days is the non-remembrance of important things and dates and events by some in our country. Have you seen TV interviews where people are asked what they know about history? For instance,
“Monday is the Memorial Day holiday. What’s it mean?” Answer: “It means we get to go to the beach!”
Yikes. Many people do know not who the enemies were in the various wars America has fought around the world. Heck…many do not even know who fought whom in the Civil War—or why! And the Revolutionary War? Forget about it! You get the idea. And yet…I continue to believe that remembering is crucial, whether to a person or to a country’s citizens. Hence this column.
July is always special to me: this one marks the beginning of my 13th year writing for Masonry, and I am so thankful for that. Much more importantly, July 4th, 2017, signals the completion of 241 years of declared independence in America. Declared, and, of course, fought for.
Declared independence…sure! But also—unimaginable. Here’s why. You know, it is the easiest thing in the world to declare something, or to begin something, or say something. The question is this: can you maintain it? Can you back it up?
Think about beginning your business. Deciding you want to do it is one thing. Keeping the doors open, payroll made and suppliers paid…well, that’s another. You get the idea.
Of course, starting a country is somewhat more difficult to do. As I just said—‘unimaginable’. This upstart Baby, this would-be country, found itself declaring war on the biggest & baddest government of its day, the British Empire which, by the way, spanned the globe. The saying, back in that time, was that ‘The sun never sets on the British Empire’.
So…the colonists, the dreamers of sovereignty, and of a new freedom at that time, really had their hands full. Had Vegas existed back then, probably would have been 100 to 1 against. The smart money in England backed the Crown. Who backed the revolutionaries? Largely self-financed. Imagine attempting that today! The fact that we did take on England was crazy talk. But that we persevered and won? Well, that was beyond belief.
Over the years, hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to make that all happen initially, and also ensure it through the centuries. Millions shed blood, most of it on foreign lands. Makes you want to ask ‘Why?’ Maybe it was the magnitude and the magnificence of it all. Sometimes you gotta dream big—or not dream at all.
It was a grand experiment—never before attempted, and remains a lesson to this day: The Law is King. That is so important because all that the world had ever known was this decree: The King is Law! As I said, a big dream; a grand experiment.
Just a few days from this Memorial Day, the dates of June 4th thru June 7th mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, certainly one of the most significant turning points of World War II. Imagine this: barely six months after the Japanese sneak attack at Pearl Harbor, which severely crippled the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, an out-gunned and out-manned (by two to one), strike group surprised the Japanese fleet, catching them off-guard, and destroyed four of their seven carriers in that battle group, along with hundreds of planes. Thousands of their sailors were killed.
To simply say that this changed the course of the War is almost an understatement. Better, I should borrow a line from Winston Churchill from a few years previous: “Never has so much been owed to so few by so many.” And I borrow that, acknowledging he said it at the conclusion of the air battle over Britain, where a small group of Allied pilots defeated the much larger and better-equipped Nazi Luftwaffe, canceling the idea of invasion by Germany. Another one of those events that Western Civilization will do well to remember!
And so, remembering is a really, big deal. We are here today because our forebears dared to dream what might be, instead of just going along to get along, not making any waves, and letting the king…be king.
For hundreds of years now, we’ve had the shoulders of these giants to stand upon, to catch their vision and embrace the grand dream…and to keep it. Blood, treasure and time has been the needed offering in this cause–the unfortunate, but required sacrifice to keep Lady Liberty free…thus ensuring the legacy of freedom itself.
Sometimes we can get lost on the concept of ideals, such as ‘freedom’. We tend to think of freedom in terms of its politics and policies. But that isn’t it.
As contractors, we need to keep in the forefront of our minds that the reasons we can even be a contractor, or own a business, live where we will, raise our children as we decide, is because of this: first and foremost, we are a free people, living in a free economy and in our part of a free world.
Building with masonry dates back thousands and thousands of years, but the idea of brick, block and stone structures being built by independent contractors and business people is really kind of new. It’s part and parcel of that ‘freedom thing’. There was a time, just a few hundred years back, where your choice of occupation wasn’t really your choice.
Remembering—Memorializing—is a big part of life, isn’t it? It’s amazing how fast time passes. (The older you are, the more likely you are to agree with that, I’ve found!) We all have things to remember…to ponder & contemplate. Good exercises.
Believe it or not, exactly fifty years ago I was about to begin a three-year stint in the U.S. Army, and yet, in many ways, I can’t imagine myself even being 50, let alone being 20 years older than that! I dreaded it, was fearful of what might happen, but got through it. And the crazy thing is this: the older I get, the more I appreciate that time, the men that I met and the value to my life of service, itself. Worth remembering.
You may be a lot like that. Stuff happens; you get through it somehow and you become the better for it. Or…you plan for doing something. That dream in the back of your mind, that thing you always wanted to do. And, once begun, you hang on—remember—the reason you began it. That reason is a gift to you, that you may persevere, to your family, that they might appreciate, and to your community and country, that they might learn and absorb your lessons, your dreams, your Gift.
Coach Gary’s Corner:
Write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com. Gary Micheloni is a construction company marketer, working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach.