Memorial Day 2019. We remember. Think upon the story of our lives and remember the ones who fought and died for peace. Our national story writ large on our sacred fallen. Throughout history honored souls of women and men offered everything to a cause greater than themselves. Yes, there is a paradox in fighting and dying for peace and freedom—but in a world of human debasement it is a fallacy in the greatest need of redress. Heroes of all color and creed step up to give it all. This is the living ideal of what America can be.
My 2019 has been a dive into the past. Our martial past. Audio books have taken me on quite a journey. It began with a two excellent explorations of leadership: Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin extrapolate the hard lessons learned serving with Seal Team 3’s Task Unit Bruiser during 2006’s Battle of Ramadi. Their learnings at the cost of lives to their brothers apply to business, life, and the human spirit. They enforce a critical lesson that leadership and personal ownership up and down the chain of command can overcome any obstacle in any walk of life. Even in Ramadi, then the most dangerous city in the world besieged by a terror force hellbent on holding ground at the total cost of civilian Iraqi and American lives.
From there I pivoted to a rewatch of HBO’s excellent Band of Brothers. Immediately followed up with an audiobook listen of Stephen E. Ambrose’s eponymous accounting of E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne. An exploration of sacrifice, brotherhood, and hardship in the critical liberation of Europe from Nazi oppression.
Next I took a dive off a cliff and began a study in the depths of evil. Starting with William L. Shirer’s tome The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. Shirer, a journalist on the ground in Berlin during the rise of the Reich shares lived experiences in and among the Nazi power base. I piggy backed this 57+ hour listen with the first two books of Richard J. Evans trilogy on The Third Reich: The Coming of the Third Reich and The Third Reich in Power. The two accountings have been nothing short of a descent into madness. As horrid and omnipresent as I assumed Nazi power always had been was somehow not strong enough. With cold, calculated, and controlled consent of the people in deference to Party, a complete and total shroud of evil was born in central Europe. Only to metastasize and spread east and west. Capitalizing on a thirst for power, redress for perceived World War I exploitation, fear of bolshevism, stark economic hardship, longing for authoritarianism, racial hygiene, and naked anti-semitism, the far-right ideology of the NSDAP took hold. It’s been a cold reminder of the absolute worst in humanity. It has affected me in ways I cannot articulate, but my mental discomfort is nothing. This is about those who rose up to fight and die against evil in its final form.
Our thanks will never be enough. Our remembrance will never be enough. But then again patriots never made this about themselves. Yet our world would be unequivocally worse with your sacrifice. I leave you with Jocko Willink’s, Remember Me. Please listen.
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