PMs must remember…
Full Contact Project Management
Lots of memories this month – everything from granite and statues to special days and parades. And, while recalling great memories is not necessarily a part of the skill set of today’s construction project manager, these memories have everything to do with the success of your projects – especially that project known as “your life.” So, it is fitting, at least once a year, to stop what we are doing on Memorial Day, and reflect on the “why” of that day – especially during these times when things seem to be dark and difficult.
We are a nation of visions and core beliefs, to such an extent that our new, breakaway nation once challenged the authority of the mightiest country on earth. A rag-tag Army was formed to do the impossible: protect this upstart nation that dared to found a country dedicated to a noble proposition – all men are created equal. They had freedom, free will, free speech and the freedom to assemble and to freely worship their God the way they chose. Thousands gave their lives and tens of thousands gave their blood.
It appeared, for quite a while, that the effort would fail. Our freedoms today were almost snuffed out back then. But for the resolve of our forbears, we still would have a king today. We need to remember their sacrifices.
A few years later, a simple, ongoing question was raised, “Can one man own another?” A quarter of a million dead Americans, and a half-million more who were wounded, answered the question that was forever on dozens of battlefields in some 23 states. President Lincoln feared the worst, and the Union hanged in the balance. Things were terribly dark. This sacrifice needs remembrance.
Less than 50 years later, the War to End All Wars captured most of the world, beginning about 1914. When America’s allies needed help, she came to their assistance. American treasure, blood and lives were poured out in Flanders Fields and 100 other now-sacred places. Tens of thousands were killed and wounded, billions were spent, but freedom was preserved – not just for this country, but those allied with it around the world. Not remembering this sacrifice would be to dishonor this Last War.
A mere 20 years later, the clouds of war again appeared on the horizon – overseas: World War II. Britain was almost lost. France was lost, along with some other countries. In the Battle of Britain, 244 American pilots flew British planes a full year before America entered the fray. They served in Eagle Squadrons, and 77 of our bravest were lost. Once America joined the Allied effort, the toll on everyone mounted, and casualties were incredibly high. Ultimately, hundreds of thousands were killed, and double that were wounded.
After Pearl Harbor, and the pounding that the American Navy took on that day, chances for victory seemed slim. And yet, we still had men and women of vision, who believed in the goodness and principles of America. Such a man of vision was Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle. In fact, he came up with what just might be the craziest idea ever attempted in naval warfare.
Lt. Col. Doolittle envisioned the unimaginable: the attack on Tokyo by American B-25 bombers. This man of vision, a mere 4.5 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, conceived and implemented a plan that launched 16 bombers from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. It was an operation so secretive, not even the commander of the Hornet knew what the mission was to be, until the planes were loaded aboard his ship.
This genius and vision stems from a country built upon freedoms and principles mostly unknown – or not enjoyed – by most other nations. We need to remember that.
Since that war ended, another 120,000 or so have been killed in action, and hundreds of thousands more wounded, bringing the total of Americans dead to about 1 million; wounded is a multiple of that.
We’ve been through some trying, dark times as a country. By contrast and in comparison, as contractors and project managers, we’ve got it pretty easy. We’re only getting beaten by an economy, not getting killed for our beliefs.
Those who came before us fought with much more serious stakes and faced down the evil of men who would end our freedoms, take our lands, and steal our liberties. These patriots often had their backs to the wall, with little chance of surviving, let alone winning. What they did have was that spirit of America. Our enemies always seem to forget about that. We have always remembered.
The battles of the fallen were fought, against tyranny, and forever changing history. Our own battle, as PMs and contractors, is merely about finding work, keeping things on budget, and trying to make a little more than we spend. A piece of cake, by comparison.
We need to remember why we have Memorial Day, and what it means to our country and business. Without these sacrifices, we would not enjoy the privileges and options we do have. When we wake up tomorrow, the economy may be crummy, but we still will be free.
About the Author
Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com.