It seems to happen to me every year. I blink and all of a sudden the days are getting a little longer, plants start peeking out of our garden and the kids around the neighborhood all seem to be sporting double-wide "school is almost out" smiles. It is hard to believe that Memorial Day has come and gone already.
Before Memorial Day is too far in our rearview mirrors, I wanted to share an experience that has been firmly planted in my mind and will serve as a constant reminder to me that Memorial Day is about far more than the start of summer. I was reminded that Memorial Day is about remembering and honoring the ultimate risk managers and strategists -- the brave men and women who died serving our country and protecting our freedoms.
I had the honor to speak at a CFO Conference last year. By chance, Karl Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, gave the keynote speech in the following session and I was lucky enough to get a front row seat.
Rove ended his speech with a story about a brave Navy Seal that he had met in 2008.
Before Rove was introduced to the Seal, another Seal had warned Rove that his friend was "hard to look at" since he had been shot eight times (including one bullet that had taken off part of his cheek and nose). The Iraq veteran had gone through nearly two dozen operations and reconstructive surgeries to recover from his wounds.
Rove said that when he met the Seal, he was astounded at his attitude, "full of charisma, confidence and joy." Rove then held up and read from a picture his retired seal friend shared with him following the encounter. It was a picture of the sign that the injured Seal had posted on his hospital door in Baghdad, secured with his Seal pin.
Coming from a man who was likely teetering on the edge of death and who was wrapped from head-to-toe in bandages, it was one of the most moving and unbelievable signs of optimism that I have ever seen.
Following his speech, I had the opportunity to thank Rove for sharing the story with us. My colleague, Mark Frigo of DePaul University, then asked Mr. Rove if he could see the picture of the sign that he had held up and read. Rove did better than that, he gave it to Frigo.
To see the photo, click here.
Reflecting on Memorial Day, please join me in taking this brave Seal and the many great men and women like him who have served and protected the country that we all so deeply love. I hope you enjoy the sign of optimism and I wish you and your families a wonderful and warm summer!
June 19, 2012
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