Of Sheepdogs and Such
Many of you reading this post today are doing so from home because it is a holiday. Some of you are at work, because, hey, stuff doesn’t just stop for holidays. You may have taken in a parade this morning, or had to navigate around one to get to the office, or the store, or the gym. There are quite a few speeches delivered today across the country and some old friends may reach out by phone to chat with someone they haven’t talked to in a while. If you need to get some government help today, it will be tough because most every office is closed.
Today is Veteran’s Day. Today is the day we celebrate the sheepdogs among us. For those of you who find that term puzzling or amusing, it has been in use for many years, as a term of endearment amongst the sheepdogs. It was used to highlight some of the theories advanced by LTC Dave Grossman who has lectured for many years on the mindset of those who protect society, and in so doing, willingly risk their lives as a matter of routine.
Sheepdogs come in many colors and flavors, with different sounds, and struts, and mannerisms. In some cases, their life as a sheepdog has dramatically altered their view on life. When I think of the sheepdogs I have known, I think of young men and women, far from home, scared, worried, angry, hungry, hot, cold, in pain, in serenity, but most of all, amongst other sheepdogs. The bond of sharing these types of experiences with others often runs so deep that it defies description.
Whether their country called, or whether they raised their hand, this nation has always been guarded by sheepdogs who put their safety and security aside and answered the call. They are all around you, every day. They ride in police cars, install your cable, bag your chops at the market, and change the oil in your car. They are at your Thanksgiving dinners, your Christmas mornings, and your Fourth of July picnics. They are your brothers, sisters, neighbors, teachers, and parents.
They have given us the lessons of their sacrifice so that we could better our own efforts at leading others. They taught us to take care of our people as our first and last thought each day. They taught us to do the job right the first time, and stick to it till it was done. They were accountable for their deeds and inspired us to be as well. They set an example that we have been inspired to follow. Even when they were hard, they treated us with dignity and respect and demanded we do so of others. They pointed out the quiet leaders in our communities and let us know that leadership is not a loud voice screaming from the top of the hill but a quiet and measured tone of responsibility and professionalism. No task was ever beneath them. They were first in the firing line but last in the chow line. They went on trash detail even when they were in charge of it. They were honest, and direct, and made you feel ashamed when you weren’t. They accepted that they were mentors, whether they liked it or not.