This month I want to honor all of the five branches of our Armed Forces. With so much in our society that seems to be tearing us down as a nation, the one thing I have personally experienced is a respect for our warriors. October 13th will mark the 243rd birthday for the United States Navy. For every Submariner, surface sailor, Airman, Seabee, Special Operations and a host of other specialties that make up the United States Navy, thank you for your service and Happy Birthday! Going forward I will celebrate each branch on their birthday month.
I have had the privilege of working with a program called Honor Flight that takes our older veterans back to Washington DC to visit their Memorials. There are Honor Flight Hubs in over 40 states so most of our membership should be near one of these hubs. Last year while on a flight, we were approaching the Navy Memorial and there was the almost daily protest going on in Washington. We were blocked from access but our bus stopped anyway. When our older veterans started getting off of the bus and getting into their wheelchairs, the protest stopped. These young men and women that were protesting gathered around our veterans and cheered for them. They clapped, thanked them for their service and cleared the way for our group to get to the Navy Memorial. Our veterans received a special feeling of honor that day that was spontaneous and heartfelt. You see, even in the melting pot of protest, our veterans experienced appreciation for their service.
If you watch TV or listen to talk radio much, it is easy to assume that this country is broken and there is nothing good to feel about it any longer. I can tell you from personal experience that getting active in your community with projects like Honor Flight or Snowball Express allow you to feel some of the good that still exists in this country.
You all served in the military. No matter what rank you held, you experienced leadership. If what you are doing isn’t working, why not try something else? If you are not satisfied with the results that you are getting in your life, try something else. Mark Twain once said “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”
If you are truly happy with what is going on in your community, keep up what you are doing. If not, do something about it. Whether you are involved with an NCOA chapter or are just a member without anyone else around, you were trained by the military to make a difference. Maybe it is time to reflect and find out why you were born. There is an old saying, how do you eat an elephant? The answer is one bite at a time. Take your first bite today and begin the process of making a difference. Success feels good! Just like those angry protesters in Washington, when they saw those veterans, they stopped protesting long enough to honor those vets.
NCOA is changing. We are going to make a difference in this country one person at a time. Join the movement for positive change. If you have any ideas or suggestions, I want to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, failure is not an option!
Strength in Unity & Leadership By Example
Terry M. Haines
Chairman, International Board of Directors