As some of you already know I am Dave Evans, better known as Snapper by my fellow airmen. I served for over 23 years in the United States Air Force and now I help companies solve complex problems by using the lessons learned during my time following and leading in the world’s greatest Air Force
Memorial Day is a time to reflect and remember. Over 6,600 sailors, soldiers, marines and airmen have paid the ultimate price to ensure your freedom over the last 16 years.
In my opinion, Americans have lost sight of their role in our nation and frankly the media is primarily to blame. We cast stones at people who do not share the same opinion as we do. Many feel that it is their god given right to criticize and complain while offering no solution. They do not take the time to listen to other people’s opinion, have an honest debate and determine for themselves how to proceed. This goes against the very fabric of our great nation. The media continually labels american citizens as racists, bigots and greedy bastards who care for nothing other than themselves. This is just not true. Our nation is filled with hundreds of thousands of great americans who are willing to sacrifice their life for your freedom. I want you to take this weekend, look in the mirror and become part of the solution.
Our service members make little to no money, they write a check that when cashed cost them their lives. They do it because they believe in the values and foundation defined by our forefathers. They believe in the mission and know that their fellow service men and women share the same beliefs. They are taught from day one to find solutions for problems. These men and women are the greatest innovators in the world.
It is time to take a stand. It is time to start acting like Americans. You need to look in the mirror and see if you are part of the problem or part of the solution. Our brothers and sisters who gave their life for our freedom expect more of us. Stop buying into the negative news. Stop jumping on the bandwagon with little to no facts and stop acting as judge and jury without first understanding other people’s perspective. None of us are as smart as we think we are.
I went to one of my favorite commander’s retirement ceremony last week and he reminded us all of how precious life is. He also shared a very important lesson that he learned while at pilot training some 27 years ago. Heinous followed this lesson his entire career. During preflight for his first T-38 mission he watched as one of his classmates crashed at the end of the runway. The plane exploded and both crewmembers were killed. His instructor calmly looked at him said take a look at what just happened, paused and then told Heinous to get back to his preflight. Many would be offended by the actions of this instructor, but the reality is that bad things happen and we are expected to complete the job at hand. This is an extremely valuable leadership lesson. I mean how many times has something bad happened at work and you have shut down or more likely you faced a challenge, threw your hands in the air and said this challenge can’t be overcome? I am certain that this happens more than you would like to admit. Lesson #1 Don’t just identify problems, offer solutions.
As we are eating our favorite bar-b-que, hanging out by the pool and sharing a cold beer with friends this weekend thousands will be away from their families. They are living in tents, bunkers and countries filled with people trying to kill them. You are living in one of the safest places on earth. You don’t speak to your neighbors and don’t cherish how fortunate you are. I have watched as a single foster mom has taken on the challenge of raising two young children with multiple medical issues. One of the youngsters is currently fighting a terrible battle with cancer. The prognosis is not good, but this mother works everyday to make this young person’s life as good as possible. I must admit that I am not as strong as she is nor do I do enough to help other people, but she serves as an inspiration to do more. When you start feeling sorry for yourself remember that you are not alone and others are dealing with challenges far greater than yours. Lesson #2 Things aren’t as bad as you think they are
The greatest lesson that I have learned in my life is this: Lesson 3: Freedom isn’t Free. There is a picture in my office behind my desk of my pilot training class with those words painted just above our heads. I look at it everyday. I thank God that I live in a country where young men and women can get a free education, women are not beaten or stoned for looking at a man, children are not left to die on the side of the road, races are treated more equally here than anyplace in the world and we have the freedom to vote for our leaders in free elections. We have our share of challenges, but I wouldn’t want to live anyplace else. You have no idea how lucky you are. Look for the good in your life, stop finding everything wrong and start seeing everything that is right.
Now I know that these examples do not apply to most of you. You are great Americans doing the right thing, finding solutions and making this world a great place. From you I ask for this, help your friends. This weekend is our opportunity to remember all of those great Americans that paid the ultimate price to defend this great nation. If you see a service member, give them a hug, thank them and let them know you truly care.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend.
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