A Memorial Day Lesson in Pride

Posted by on May 31, 2010

Veterans know how to teach us something even when they don’t intend to do so.

Today I chatted with Joe, a senior neighbor, who enjoys a good conversation.  This Memorial Day, the conversation centered upon Joe’s participation in Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) activities and, in particular, a recognition event to celebrate the holiday weekend.

Joe shared with me his reflection on today’s special event with enthusiasm. He is proud of his colleagues and their service to our country. 

After a little prodding on my part, Joe beamed with pride as he talked about his service in the Navy from 1943-46.  His eyes sparkled and his conversation grew in enthusiasm with each sentence.  For a moment, I felt  we were both back in time reliving a couple specific events he shared.

Joe’s pride was shining throughout our conversation.  He is proud of his colleagues, proud of their service, and proud of our country. 

My Memorial Day lesson was learned from Joe. I realized how pride is missing in the workplace of many in government and corporate service today.  Too often, whether we are buying a $2.00 hamburger at a fast food drive-through or a $200,000 home, business interactions are increasingly becoming a hassle.  It seems to me that “pride” is sorely missing in our society.

Too many people do not take any pride in their work or their workplace. It may be the grouchy government employee we encounter when we must conduct public business or the “customer service” representative at a private business who seems to not care about both the customer and the service parts of their job.  It’s frustrating when we encounter people who appear to have no pride in what they do, what they are supposed to do, or even who they are.

This lack of pride creates a climate of apathy.  It taints the spirits of everyone involved in an interaction.  And in some cases, it creates a hostile or even dangerous environment.

Think about the flip side of the coin: A person genuinely tries to help you through a government bureaucratic paper trail.  You call a company and the customer service rep solves your problem in less than five minutes.  You walk into your child’s school, get a warm welcome from the school staff, and leave feeling comforted knowing your child spends his/her day is an environment where the adults care and take pride in what they do.

Joe taught me that Memorial Day is not only about thanking the men and women who have served, and who continue to serve, our country.  It is also about taking pride while you serve and after your service is completed. And it is being proud of being part of something bigger than yourself.

Are you proud of yourself, your service, your profession, and your community? 

Ken Trump

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