I’ve never been in the military.
My Dad was.
He was Air Force. He fought in World War II . . . in Italy. He took his discharge after the war, spent two years in civilian life, and went back into the military with my mom, the first Italian war bride. He spent the next 20 years in the Air Force, eventually retiring as an officer.
That really doesn’t qualify me for much. At least not as far as the military is concerned.
It doesn’t qualify me to engage in battle. It doesn’t qualify me to say that I served my country in the armed forces. And it doesn’t qualify me to understand the pride that our servicemen carry with them for the rest of their lives once they’ve served.
But it does give me somewhat of an inside track.
As a young child growing up in an Air Force officer’s household on military bases, I was incessantly exposed to the fundamental values of military life. I was steeped in them everywhere; and, God knows, Dad made them explicit.
From the frequent gatherings we used to have at the house where I operated as the 11 year old bartender who could whip up a drink for virtually any request, to the living room conversations with all those ex-World War II and Korean War Vets–conversation about modern America and the Soviet Union would be fast and furious…and I was left mesmerized.
I learned any number of life’s lessons during those days until Dad retired from SAC and headed back home to south Philly in 1963.
One particular one surfaced recently. I had not thought about it for years. But after this Chapter 11 experience (and on the verge of filing my Chapter 11 Plan), I think about it all the time now days.
It’s the fundamental maxim that in military service no man is ever left behind.
I can’t tell you how many times over the past several months I’ve had people tell me that I should just simply cut and run. “Larry, why do you need it? It’s time to to move on to your future. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to your family.”
Really? Do I?
“Larry, it’s not about you. These have been terrible times. Everyone will understand. Use the situation as an opportunity to start over.”
“Larry, we can put a dress on it, but it’s still a…!”
“Larry, nobody will remember a couple of years from now.”
“Larry, who are you serving? Take care of youself. Everyone else would do the same.”
And on and on.
And I recognize that these comments are not from hard-hearted people. And they have my best interests at heart. They’re my friends; my colleagues: the people who have either stood by me or watched me these many years.
And I appreciate their counsel…and their friendship!
Yet throughout it all, resounding in my ears, reverberating in my mind, is not just the military motto, it’s an entire upbringing: “never leave anyone behind.”
With my upbringing, I don’t have a choice…smart or stupid.
I can’t cut loose and move on. I just can’t do that.
I can’t turn my back on the shareholders who believed in me. The customers who followed me for over a decade . . . or two. The creditors who gave my company credit because they knew I was at the helm. The community who supported me and my ambitions for growing my company.
I just can’t cut loose and leave them behind.
If I did, I’d leave myself behind…my soul behind. And, of course, I’d ultimately leave my friends behind.
I don’t know if it’s smart or stupid; naïve or prescient; glorious or inglorious. What I know is simply that I just can’t do it.
So, I will work to emerge out of this Chapter 11 and I will be submitting a Plan (a Disclosure) this week where nobody will hopefully lose a dime so long as they stay with me. And while I don’t know if it makes good business sense to try to emerge with such a heavy burden on my future, I don’t think I’m prepared to accept the alternative.
After all, nobody should be left behind!
2 Responses to “No Man Left Behind”
1. Dennis Says:
February 28th, 2010 at 4:40 pm
This wekend Lynn and I were having dinner and I told her a story about a trip taken to NYC, when I (we) were in high school, to Columbia U…the first time I had a beer…sitting on the window sill in a dubious hotel off 42nd Street reading poetry from a book “of the time”, the bootles of booze on the bureau in Fr. Rock’s room…what prompted the memory was Simon and Garfunfel’s ‘Sounds of Silence’ playing in the background…then we returned home and I saw your blog….FRIEND!…don’t know if there is anything I can do….doubt it, but know that I am here…call if u need to talk….sometimes, maybe old old times can help to see the future….
2. Larry Says:
March 13th, 2010 at 9:55 pm
Dennis, I remember the seedy St. George Hotel all too well. Father Joynes, Terry Clark, John and Kent, Noreen Nugent: a true coming of age. Those were precioius times indelibly inked in my psyche for the rest of my life.
There’s truly nothing you can do, but I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the thought and the sentiment.
It will work out and I definitely do everything in my power to make sure I maintain perspective through the process.
Thank you for being there for me!