At the rental ski house where I'm staying I happened to pick up Tom Brokaw's book "The Greatest Generation". Inside the front cover it said, "This generation was united not only by a common purpose, but also by common values, -duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and, above all, responsibility for oneself."
This generation wasn't perfect of course, racism and women's rights were still big issues, but there is no dispute on what this generation accomplished, as Brokaw describes, "they faced great odds in defeating two of the worlds most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled, instruments of conquest in the hands of fascist maniacs." I've had many relatives over the years describe the events first hand, but it was my grandfather-in-law Norman, who survived Normandy, that told me the most harrowing stories.
I've had trouble putting myself in the mindset of Norman, could I make the trip to Normandy knowing that most of my fellow soldiers would die in battle? Just so future generations could remain free? Do most of us today even consider the types of sacrifices that Norman, and the rest of "The Greatest Generation" made for us? I'm not sure.
There was a time when I would have sacrificed my life for my country. I spent four years in the Navy, and like all military personnel I took this oath:
"I, _____, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
Fortunately I never had to go to war, I served during a time of peace, but I think about the soldiers in the past that gave their lives for our freedom, and those fighting for us today, including one of my former Navy buddies, Rob Mahar, currently in Afghanistan, and the stories he posts on Facebook about soldiers being killed in action for Operation Enduring Freedom. 309 US Soldiers were killed in 2012, including 12 just this month. And I can only think may God, in whatever form they believed, help them.
So I sit here with my family, relaxing by a fire after having enjoyed a day on the slopes, grateful, appreciative, and thankful to those who gave their lives in a time of need, so my family and I can experience the freedom we enjoy today.
And I ask myself, what will be the legacy of my generation? The generation that used more of the earth's resources than all of human kind before us? Having been born after the Baby Boomers, in 1967, my generation has experienced all of the benefits of the preceding generations, and honestly, with exception to the small percentage of citizens that have been fighting and sacrificing for our country in the recent conflicts, collectively we haven't been asked to sacrifice very much, in fact one might say in a lot of ways we've moved from citizenship to spectatorship.
How else can one describe the society we live in today, the truth is many of our citizens have become apathetic, perhaps because they haven't been called to some greater, common purpose. We've seen glimpses of a greater, common purpose, like after September 11th, but those feelings seem to have collectively diminished, seems many tune out after a while. However I'm an optimist, I believe all US citizens have the genes of our forefathers, and these genes are expressed as we are called into action for a greater, common purpose.
Could it be our greater, common purpose will be asked of us collectively in the coming years? Or could it be that it is being asked of us today? Not in the form of resisting a powerful and ruthless military machine in the hands of a fascist maniac, but a more subtle enemy, that's just as engaged, and potentially more destructive; the depletion of resources required for humans to inhabit the earth.
I don't have the answer for what's being asked of us collectively, but I do have the answer for myself.
#1 - I want to be a citizen and be fully engaged in solving the challenges my community, my state, country, and planet face.
#2 - I want to support my fellow humans by making better decisions regarding the resources my family and I use on a daily basis.
#3 - I want to support the economy by using the following formula, first look to buy local, then within my state, and then my country, and to not look at the lowest cost, but look instead for products and services created using the most sustainable resources and being good for the planet.
Over the past few weeks I've been confronted with several business decisions regarding the creation of PuraKai's apparel. One decision was where to make the clothing. Over the past six months I contacted over a hundred apparel manufacturers and blank t-shirt suppliers. My hope was to have a collection of shirts available for the holidays, when many e-tailers generate their greatest percentage of sales for the year, but I would have had to make a compromise, and it wasn't a compromise I was willing to make.
Today I can proudly say PuraKai Apparel is being Made in the USA. I have been to the factories that are making our clothing, looking into the eyes of a US citizen creating my apparel is important to me, and I can only hope it will be important to my customers as well. I'm not sure if all of the products PuraKai makes will be Made in the USA, but right now as a business owner I see this as my responsibility, I want our economy to recover, be vibrant, and to provide good paying jobs to those US citizens who wish to work.
I realize I have a choice to make a product overseas or in the USA, and that choice was given to me by the sacrifice of men and women from past generations. Today as I head out to the slopes to enjoy the day with my family, I think of those that gave their lives for my liberty, those currently putting their lives on the line for our country, and for my buddy Rob in Afghanistan, I know his three children would have loved to have been with him this holiday season.
Maybe someday we can have Peace on Earth, but the best we can do today is to be thankful for the freedom and peace we enjoy in the USA. And while we're collectively not being asked to sacrafice nearly as much as "The Greatest Generation", perhaps we could learn from them and embrace their "common values, -duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and, above all, responsibility for oneself."
Peace, Love and Prosperity in 2013! Carpe Diem! Happy New Year!