Seventy-one years ago became, “a date which will live in infamy”. For those that are not familiar with that phrase, it was part of President Roosevelt’s speech that happened the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and other installations across the Pacific by Imperial Japan. This famous speech is where he asked and received from the United States Congress a declaration of war.
Today to many is Pearl Harbor Day. And it is important to always remember those that have served. I find myself using the lessons of history daily in making important business decisions and in leadership. We can also build our teams and businesses by looking to these famous events. As a serviceman that served in the 1980s I had the opportunity to see history first hand.
The first was living in northern Sardinia on the island of San Stefano. Every morning I would get up and see our compound with the US flag flying on the other side of the bay I had beautiful beach and a small estate. The estate was home of the father of the Italian Republic, Giuseppe Garibaldi. Think of it as waking up every day next to Mount Vernon. (It made going to college and studying history interesting, as I walked the same paths as Garibaldi, Napoleon. and others)
The second was on the other side of the world on another island, Oahu. Here we not only have the memorial at Punchbowl Crater and the greater Pearl Harbor area but the remains of two battleships, BB-39 USS Arizona and BB-31 USS Utah. Submerged cemeteries in a holiday paradise. The visitor’s center always a hive of actively as citizens of the world meet there, join up, do business and look over the exhibits. Many are visiting Hawaii from countries that in the last seventy-one years were in conflict with the United States. We can learn a great deal and grow if we only take the time.
If all you do is take an afternoon off from a holiday or a meeting to reflect on the areas history, you could do much worse. What I suggest is to take time out to reflect what the history can teach us as a society. Without getting to preachy, we can learn a great deal from the great people of history. Their stories are as interesting as any fiction and just as saucy. Over the next two years meetings and events held in the United States and Europe have two anniversaries to use in our travel plans.
In 2013 we will have the 150th anniversaries of two pivotal dates in American history. These are the July 1st to the 3rd for the Battle of Gettysburg and the November 19th Gettysburg Address. In the early summer of 1863 the country was torn apart by strife. The leadership in the north came together to over come the mounting challenges, challenges that are greater than any we have today.
The following year, 2014, we look to Europe and the 100th anniversary of the start of The Great War, a conflict that touched directly 37 million people on all of the world’s continents (ok not Antarctica) and indirectly millions more. Once again anyone studying leadership, courage in business or the less glamorous logistics will find great material at hand. Having the ability to walk the battlefields, cathedrals or halls of power are marvelous team building events.
Lastly you do not have to go it alone, there are sites and organization to make your tours effective. The International Guild of Battlefield Guides can help you to design the right program. Park associations and tourism offices are also able to set you up with tours. Nature walks; walk and learning tours and classroom style lectures and discussions are available by the best leadership experts and historians available. Take the time to learn from those that came before us.
See you there.