Thoughts on Leadership: Learning from Veterans Day

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, starting Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I participated in the early morning Berkshire Hathaway Energy call followed by a session of handwritten notes for the holidays. (Let this be a gentle reminder to start working on your handwritten holiday cards if you haven’t already.) On Wednesday, I joined the Global Leadership Meeting for our leaders in Europe and Asia then drove to Union City, California to present on the real estate environment and specifically, 16 actions agents can take in a declining market. Today, between succession planning calls, I sat down to write this post to you.

Read more: Thoughts on Leadership: Learning from Veterans Day

As you may have read, early last week I said goodbye to my beloved Kona – for those following the story, I take home my new little best friend on November 22. Then at the end of the week, I celebrated Veterans Day, not only for all brave veterans who protect our freedoms but also for my dad, my Pappy. When my dad turned 18 years old, he was drafted to the Army. He went through training and became a Technician 5th Grade in Company B, 134th Infantry Regiment of the 35th Infantry Division.

He landed on the beaches of Normandy, and his regiment was assigned to the Third Army. Yes, that was old Blood and Guts himself, General George Patton.

He was in General Patton’s Third Army during the Battle of the Bulge, a major World War II German offensive fought in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany from December 1944 to January 1945. My Pappy would go on to receive two purple hearts for his bravery fighting with Patton’s Third Army.

The most famous part of the Battle of the Bulge occurred around Christmas time in Bastogne, Belgium. Bastogne had a bridge and seven different roads in and out of the town; it was very important strategically. The upshot is the Allies had been surrounded and cut off in Bastogne and needed help.

There was a famous meeting held among all the field generals. The only general that committed to getting to Bastogne was Patton. He said he could attack in three days.

The only problem was my dad, and the rest of the Third Army were 100 miles away and had to hike for three days through tough winter conditions, including deep snow. You heard that right. 100 miles in three days in deep snow during the coldest winter on record. A distance greater than a marathon in boots and combat gear … walking. But they got there.

So, what’s the message? My Pappy’s story proves the resilience and perseverance of veterans –  and that’s just one of so many veterans’ stories. On Veterans Day and every day, the key is not just to thank these brave veterans but also to listen, giving them a chance to share their incredible experiences, so they may live on forever.

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