Thoughts on Leadership: Memorial Day 2017

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Las Vegas for the ICSC REcon event and next in Minneapolis for the HomeServices of America, Inc. CEO meeting. Before I describe Minneapolis, I want to first explain ICSC, the world’s largest retail real estate convention with more than 37,000 attendees representing 58 countries. These commercial real estate powerhouse leaders gather each year for deal making, networking and innovative education, and it was incredible to be among so many passionate commercial sales professionals, especially as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices continues to grow its commercial sector nationwide.

In Minneapolis, I was honored to spend time among the leadership teams that make up HomeServices of America, Inc., who HomeServices of America Chairman and CEO Ron Peltier closed out our meeting by describing as, “the best operators in real estate.”

After Minneapolis I’m returning home to Northern California to spend the Memorial Day holiday weekend with friends and family. As a passionate student of history, this holiday is particularly meaningful, and I’d like to share with you a brief narrative about how it came to be:

Each year, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May to honor the fallen men and women who served in the U.S. military. Memorial Day was officially declared a federal holiday in 1971 but early observances date back to the Civil War. Claiming more casualties than any other war in U.S. history, the Civil War was a bloody battle with an estimated 630,000 lives lost. At the time, Americans began holding informal ceremonies to commemorate these soldiers, decorating graves with flowers and gathering to remember their bravery and willingness to fight until the end.

May 30, 1868 marks the first formal observance of fallen soldiers, and it was the same day that General James Garfield delivered a moving speech to 5,000 attendees at the Arlington National Cemetery, where more than 15,000 Confederate and Union soldiers were put to rest. Here’s an excerpt of what he said:

“I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is golden, it must be here, beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.”

So, what’s the message? This holiday weekend, think about the concept General Garfield so eloquently articulated years and year ago, which is that sometimes words may be insufficient to express gratitude or deliver profound reverence for the brave American soldiers we’ve lost. A moment of silence might be the best way to honor those who can no longer speak for themselves but whose legacy, through our Memorial Day observance, nonetheless lives on.

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

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