“They carry them in their memory…”
Lara Logan, speaking to/of Staff Sgt. Salvatore Augustine Giunta’s Medal of Honor; 60 Minutes Presents Honoring Our Soldiers, 5/29/11
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. Service Members who died while in the military service. (Wikipedia).
Memorial Day. A day to “carry them in our memories.” Some died long ago. Others more recently.
And those who survived remember their fallen friends. Some who remember are now old, and feeble — like my wife’s father, who served as a Signalman on a Navy Ship – a ship that was hit by a kamikaze pilot, just feet away from him, near the end of World War II.
The places are many, and varied. From Gettysburg to the Battle of Midway (I wrote about this battle last year on Memorial Day) to the battle in Korengal Valley, near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Staff. Sgt. Giunta earned his medal. Men died in that “classic L-shaped ambush.” But Giunta did something remarkable, and then… (from Wikipedia):
Giunta learned two days later from Captain Kearney that the captain was going to recommend him for the Medal of Honor. He was uncomfortable about being singled out and labeled a hero. “If I’m a hero, every man that stands around me, every woman in the military, everyone who goes into the unknown is a hero,” he says. “So if you think that’s a hero—as long as you include everyone with me.” Giunta insists that his actions were those of any man in his unit. “In this job, I am only mediocre. I’m average.”
Lara Logan and 60 Minutes presented a thorough and moving report of his work on that fateful day – take a look at the video here.
As always, in the United States, we fought and we fight to keep people free. I think of much that I have seen and read and heard. I especially thought of these:
From The West Wing, President Jed Bartlett, about a few who made it to the United States on a flimsy boat, from Cuba (from the Pilot episode: script here):
With the clothes on their backs,
they came through a storm.
And the ones that didn’t die want a better life.
And they want it here.
Talk about impressive.
From the movie Gettysburg (text of movie speech, based on/taken from historical accounts, here):
Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Addresses Maine Soldiers on What We’re Fighting For
This regiment was formed last summer in Maine. There were a thousand of us then. There are less than three hundred of us now. All of us volunteered to fight for the union, just as you did.
Some came mainly because were were bored at home – thought this looked like fun. Some came because we were ashamed not to. Many of us came because it was the right thing to do. And all of us have seen men die.
This is a different kind of army. If you look at history you’ll see men fighting for pay, for women, or for some other kind of loot. They fight for land, power, because a king makes them, or just because they like killing. But we are here for something new. This has not happened much in the history of the world. We are an army out to set other men free.
America should be free ground, all of it. Not divided by a line between slave and free – all the way, from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow, no man born to royalty. Here we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was. Here you can be something. Here is the place to build a home.
But it’s not the land. There’s always more land.
It’s the idea that we all have value, you and me.
What we’re fighting for, in the end… we’re fighting for each other.
Sorry. Didn’t mean to preach.
From Isabel Wilkerson (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration:
In the end, it could be said that the common denominator for leaving was the desire to be free, like the Declaration of Independence said, free to try out for most any job they pleased, play checkers with whomever they chose, sit where they wished on the streetcar, watch their children walk across a stage for the degree most of them didn’t have the chance to get. They left to pursue some version of happiness, whether they achieved it or not. It was a seemingly simple thing that the majority of Americans could take for granted but that the migrants and their forebears never had a right to in the world they had fled.
For those who died to protect such freedom, “we carry them in our memories.”
From the segment on Brazil:
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva walked into the President’s office. Known simply as “Lula,” he is a former metal worker with a fourth-grade education — and a doctorate in charisma.
Lula told Kroft he has “found out something amazing.”
“The success of an elected official is in the art of doing what is obvious,” Lula said. “It is what everyone knows needs to be done but some insist on doing differently.”
From the segment on Jerry Jones:
His dad, Pat Jones, had show business in his blood. Selling groceries, he wore a white cowboy suit and a Stetson. In the middle of his store was the coolest entertainment technology of the day – a disc jockey broadcasting on radio. Customers loved it.
Little Jerry caught on quick – give ’em a show. Better yet, make it a spectacle.
And here are the two lessons.
Lesson number one: success is all about “the art of doing what is obvious.” These words by Lula, the outgoing President of Brazil, are profound, brilliant, yet so very simple. There are so many other examples of this wisdom. We talk about “keeping it simple.” It may not be easy – but it is obvious.
Lesson number two: “give ‘em a show.” Describe it any way you want: entertain; engage; make it “amazing.” Good advice for speakers, and good reminders that everything you do matters almost as much as anything you do…
There is too much to know. Really — there is too much to know.
Everywhere around us, we see this truth pounded home. Recently 60 Minutes re-ran its great, touching, sad, profound story about “Picking Cotton.” (Transcript available here). It is the true story of Ronald Cotton, falsely accused of raping Jennifer Thompson-Cannoni, identified (falsely) by Jennifer herself as the rapist. The actual rapist, Bobby Poole, was not caught, and raped other women until he was later convicted for one of his other crimes.
The detective in charge of the case, Mike Gauldin (now Captain Mike Gauldin), assisted Jennifer with photos and a line-up of possible suspects. He used standard, accepted procedure at the time. She picked Ronald Cotton, who was convicted — twice. It was the wrong choice, which DNA evidence later proved. Here are the words of Detective Gauldin from the 60 Minutes interview:
“Law enforcement wasn’t schooled in memory. We weren’t schooled in protecting memory, treating it like a crime scene, where you’re very careful, methodical about what you do and how you use it. I mean, we weren’t taught that in those days.”
Here is a little more of the Leslie Stahl interview with Detective Gaudlin:
“Before this case, did you think that there were a lot of innocent people put away?” Stahl asked Detective Gauldin. “No,” he said with a smile. “No, I didn’t. Innocent people aren’t convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. I believed that.” Asked what he thinks now, Gauldin told Stahl, “I know better. I mean, well over 200 cases nationally. We’ve had a half a dozen in this state alone. The first, of course, was my case.”
This is the clear lesson — as much as we know, as much as we think we know, there is still so much we do not know. Detective Gauldin had been thoroughly trained. He is, without any doubt, a man with great credibility (Just watch the interview). He cared about getting the conviction right. But, the knowledge was simply inadequate. We needed, he needed, to learn more about the mistakes that can be made in confirming eye-witness testimony.
There was so much more to learn (and there is still so much more to learn). Captain Gauldin has now helped develop a computer program, gaining acceptance across the country, to help avoid the eyewitness testimony mistakes made in the Cotton case. (By the way, Jennifer Thompson-Cannoni has apologized to Ronald Cotton, and asked for his forgiveness, which he granted, and they are now friends– and they wrote their story in a book together. It really is a remarkable story of forgiveness and redemption).
But for this blog post, it is as a parable that I refer to this story. It serves as a reminder that we always have more to learn. If Outliers, and Talent is Overrated, and so many other business books have anything to teach us, it is this: we need to keep learning.
This is where the First Friday Book Synopsis serves such a useful purpose. Few people have the time to read all of the business books they would like to read – that they need to read. And even when they do read them, they do not remember what they read, nor do they pull out of a book its most useful transferable principles.
If a person attends our event (or purchases our synopses on-line), they have a better chance of knowing which books to buy and which books they don’t need to buy. But we offer even more — our presentations provide the key ideas which would be especially useful in anyone’s unique circumstances.
There are other places, of course, to find these points out — including the many excellent book reviews available on Amazon.com, the New York Times, Business Week, and many other places. But let’s be honest– not only do people not have time to read business books, they don’t even have time to read business book reviews.
Our unique approach really does give the key content of the books we choose. One enthusiastic participant put it this way:
“attending the First Friday Book Synopsis, is not the same as reading the book for yourself — but it’s close.”
The information you need to learn may not be as important as the information Detective Gauldin needed to learn. But we are all on a trajectory toward greater competence and success, in business and in life. Learning is a life-long challenge. We believe the First Friday Book Synopsis can help.
If you have never attended the First Friday Book Synopsis, here’s a quick overview. In addition to great networking and a terrific Park City Club breakfast, Karl Krayer and I will each present a 15-minute synopsis of a best-selling business book. You will receive two pages of quotes taken directly from each book, and an outline of the key content. You will discover many transferable concepts. It is a fast-paced delivery of useful, insightful business principles and concepts.
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