Thoughts on Leadership: Reflecting on Memorial Day

While reflecting on the Memorial Day holiday, a time for remembrance and reverence, I am compelled to share a story that deeply moved me. It’s a tale that isn’t mine but one that resonates with the themes of leadership and sacrifice.

Recently, I revisited a powerful talk from TED 2016, where Wes Moore—a former U.S. Army captain and paratrooper—presented on “How to Talk to Veterans about the War.” Moore’s journey is compelling; he was not initially drawn to the military out of a desire for combat, but was enrolled in military school by his mother to curb his youthful indiscipline.

It was at military school that Moore discovered he was “part of something bigger, part of a team,” and began to truly understand the essence of leadership. His military friends eventually deployed to obscure corners of the globe, while Moore himself studied at Oxford University, absorbing history from textbooks as his friends wrote it with their lives. This contrast deeply affected him, and after completing a Master of Letters in International Relations, Moore served in Afghanistan. His return home was marked by a challenging reintegration into civilian life, a theme he candidly addresses in his talk.

Moore expressed that while the common phrase “thank you for your service” is appreciated, it often feels insufficient for veterans. Instead, they desire to be truly heard. He highlighted that for many returning soldiers, the battle lingers in their minds and memories, making it difficult to regain a sense of normalcy.

The real takeaway from Moore’s message is that while it’s important to thank veterans, we must also listen to their stories and ensure they feel genuinely understood. On Memorial Day and every day, let us remain committed to honoring not only those who have returned but also to remembering those who have not. Their tales of bravery and ultimate sacrifice continue to shape our understanding of courage and leadership. So, what’s the message? Let’s ensure our gratitude towards veterans transcends mere words, allowing us to grasp the depth of their experiences and the sacrifices made in the name of service and leadership.

This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.

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