I am doing something I’ve never done in the nine years of writing this column: I’m writing as I’m heading to Oklahoma in a plane to give a speech on Servant Leadership to a group of HR professionals in Oklahoma City. I boarded my connecting flight in Chicago and found my seat. Next to me, across the aisle and one row back, a couple in their 50s received a phone call. The husband asked the caller to hold a second while he put the call on speaker phone. I was not prepared to hear what I heard next.
The caller was a captain in the military. He was sending his deepest condolences from Afghanistan. He went on to tell the couple that the memorial service for their son was a beautiful tribute to his service and his sacrifice for his country. As the parents worked hard to keep their composure, the captain graciously thanked these parents for raising such a strong and confident young man. “It was a pleasure raising him,” the father said with a shaky voice. That is when I started sobbing quietly in my seat.
The parents thanked the captain for all of his kind words as the overhead speaker blared: “Please turn off all electrical devices. We have been cleared for takeoff.” What could I possibly say to this couple? I remembered what my friend and Servant Leadership coach told me. All I could say was, “I’m truly sorry for your loss.” I learned that the name of the couple’s son was Landon.
I had just experienced the ultimate Servant Leader, willing to sacrifice his life for all of us. My sincere gratitude goes out to all of our military personnel and their families for their courageous and selfless service. God bless the weary, God bless the strong, God bless America!
ACTION PLAN: Let your kids know how proud you are of them.