#19 Thoughts on Leadership: A Message for Memorial Day

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels took me to the Great State of Texas for a visit with the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty Texas team in Dallas and the HSF Affiliates LLC IT group in Houston. Usually, this would be the time during “Thoughts on Leadership” when I would describe what happened over the course of the past few days. But for this post, in honor of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday and its spirit of remembrance and reverence, I want to tell a tale that isn’t my own.

I recently read “Talk like TED” by Carmine Gallo, all about ways to deliver a more impactful speech. The book inspired me to watch some of the best from TED, an organization that brings together the world’s most thought-provoking minds to present on any number of subjects from the emotions of chimpanzees to the poor design of city flags. Last year, TED featured Wes Moore, who spoke about “How to Talk to Veterans about the War.”

Moore was a former U.S. Army captain and paratrooper, a valiant leader who admitted with surprising candor at the beginning of his speech, “I didn’t go to the army because I wanted to go to war.” Moore had been a disciplinary problem for his mother from an early age and so, in an effort to rehabilitate her son, she sent him off to military school, thinking that might do the trick.

And it did. It was at military school that Moore realized he was “part of something bigger, part of team.” Here he came to learn “leadership wasn’t just a punch line but an actual core part of the experience.”

However, after school, while Moore’s military friends were being sent to places “people couldn’t point out on a map,” Moore went overseas to study at Oxford University. As he learned about history from textbooks, his former comrades were making history miles from his classroom. This didn’t sit well with the military-trained student.

After earning a Master of Letters in International Relations from Oxford, Moore served in Afghanistan. When he returned home after his tour of duty, he faced a harsh new reality. As he mentions in his talk, Moore was most surprised about those who simply told him “thank you for your service.” The phrase, as he explains, often rings hollow for soldiers wanting more than gratitude. “For so many people as they come back home, the war keeps playing out in their mind and memories,” Moore explains. “It’s not easy to fall back into a sense of normality because the whole normal has changed.”

So, what’s the message? Instead of thankfulness, Moore says veterans just want to be heard. “Thank you for your service needs to be more than just a quote break,” he says. Like Moore, many returning veterans have a story to tell and want an audience who will listen. And for those soldiers who lost their lives in battle, on this Memorial Day, let’s not only thank these brave fighters for their service but also remember that their lives now represent stories left untold.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on Facebook and Twitter.

4 responses to #19 Thoughts on Leadership: A Message for Memorial Day

  1. Even if we’re uncomfortable doing so, we must engage with our returning Vets, through meaningful conversation, not by merely acknowledge them…….Is there anything you need to share about your experiences over there? How are you doing no that you’re back?

    If you have seen “American Sniper” put it at the top of your list!

    Great seeing you last Thursday Gino!

    I’m waiting for my copy of a hardbound chronicle of your journey to the top! You inspire greatness through example bro! Keep up the good work.

    Your Bro,
    Russ Warrick


  2. Memorial Memory. Several years ago we went to Normandy,starting with a guide at Pointe du Hoc,the Southernmost part of Normandy Beach. This a a sheer cliff on the beach where one of the initial assaults started,as these cliffs were the high point held by the Germans. American Rangers had to fire grappling hooks with ropes,scale the cliffs against enemy fire and secure that point. As we stood on the top of the cliff looking North,we looked down on Utah beach,then to Omaha beach, and in the far misty distance,Juno and Sword beach. Driving a short distance north, we were at the small village of Ste Mere Eglise where the church steeple caught a descending U.S..paratrooper,who was suspended for hours,pretending to be dead,overlooking the town square occupied with Nazi troops. That town square today has a museum for D Day, which features Charles Young who flew several missions dropping US paratroopers. He later moved to my home city of Southlake Texas, was a pilot for American Airlines,became my friend and never talked of his heroism. We then visited Omaha Beach with the German fortresses that inflicted so many casualties on our troops and finished at the American cemetery.That cemetery is U.S.territory,land ceded by the French to appreciate the price U.S.youth paid for their freedom and to preserve our freedom. It was a late November day,misty,cold and we were the last visitors in the cemetery. As the three of us stood at the grave of Teddy Roosevelt’s son who was a general who came ashore at Normandy and was killed later in the war.on the mist we heard the plaintive taps being played as the Stars and Stripes were lowered over the thousands of crosses.This is a memory that we should all remember on Memorial Day.


  3. Tom iovenitti

    Gino, very inspiring and eye opening. The reasons we can do what we do daily…. is on the shoulders of those who fought for our freedom. Love your insight into “stories untold”. A lot can be learned by open conversation with brave people of the armed forces and community servants. Sometimes it is fitting and I agree a good ear is better than a loud cheer!

    Liked by 1 person

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