You walk into your boss’s office and you find out the requirements for a new project:
- You have to form the most powerful armada in the world to travel across a very rough water channel
- You must carry troops in this armada to battle the foremost military power in the world
- Before the armada launches, you must unleash hundreds of paratroopers into enemy territory to capture bridges in order for the seaborne troops to cross
- You do not have cell phones, computers, or any other technology other than very primitive walkie-talkies (line-of-site)
- You have to get this done in 6 months
- You have to get international support and concurrence and
- You have to defeat the enemy or possibly lose your way of life
So, there are the requirements and you are panicking since this has never been done before…or has it?
A little more than 73 years ago that project became a reality as the forces of the Allied Commands fighting the Nazi Forces of Germany landed on Normandy Beach in France to take back territories illegally and brutally obtained by the Forces of Germany and Italy. The fighting began early in the morning and continued until that night. The early morning started with paratroopers dropping behind enemy lines in order to take towns and bridges essential for the movement of troops from the several landing sites. I remember my dad talking about his good friend — we called him “Uncle Petey” although he was not a blood relative — being one of those paratroopers. Uncle Petey never talked about that day during our social gatherings, but I remember seeing a photograph of him with my father in his Army uniform with his parachutist badge gleaming. It was not until after I entered the military that I realized that he had one ribbon on his uniform — the Purple Heart, indicating he was wounded in combat. He was with the 82nd Airborne, but you would never have known it since he never talked about it. It is the ones that never talk about their role in World War II that seem to have some of the biggest roles in that war.
Today you are the project manager and have at your disposal international communications that you can carry in your hand; computer systems that are much more powerful than the computer that broke the German Enigma Code in World War II. You can communicate instantaneously with several people at once and can travel by plane anywhere in the world should the project need hands-on management. You are more powerful than General Eisenhower was in World War II. What General Eisenhower had that you do not is a “focus on purpose.” Troops that were carried on board those ships or in those planes had their orders and their purpose. They knew that if they failed, the shape and content of the world would be different. Many of them were under 20 years old and this was the first time they had seen Europe, and many of them would make their last stands here, thousands of miles away from home. They had each other and that, according to many accounts, helped them through the worst of this situation.
As we go about our lives, please take a moment to remember those that fought on that day in June. Research the Operation Overlord project and see the many complications that could (and did) exist. D-Day should not just be another day, but a day as thoughtful and purposeful as Memorial Day. Every year I think of Uncle Petey and thank him for being there for us when we needed him. It is these unsung heroes that made the success of Operation Overlord, and it will be the unsung heroes on your project team that will do the same. Give them purpose, as Elie Weisel (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1986/wiesel-bio.html) said, and the rest will take care of itself.
Rest in Peace, thy Warriors for Peace.
I apologize for being one day late on this — the impact of the operation is still the greatest ever!
Learn, Offer, Value, Educate (LOVE)