Today marks the 73d anniversary of Operation Overlord which was the invasion of Normandy that helped lead to the ultimate defeat of Nazi Germany. The veterans we have left from this war are all in their nineties, with a few exceptions, and within another decade they will all be gone. What few know is the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, had some doubts as to whether the invasion would succeed. And while 73 years later this fear may seem unfounded, we must remember the Allies had suffered a significant defeat at Dieppe in which the Germans repulsed with heavy losses a raid against the French coast. Accordingly, General Eisenhower penned the following in the event the Allied landings failed: “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
Note the final sentence which accepts full responsibility for any failure. Can we say today that we have leaders who are willing to accept responsibility for their actions? I think all of us would agree accepting responsibility is the exception rather than the rule. But we can change this if we really want to; we can be like Howard Beale in the movie Network, and we can figuratively (and maybe actually) open our windows and shout, “I am mad as hell, and I‘m not going to take this anymore.”
But words themselves are not enough; we would actually have to back our talk with action. We could actually follow through and write our congressmen and women; we could address issues we see in our communities, and we could force positive change. Yet to do so we would have to do something; we would have to accept personal responsibility for our own actions. Each of us is at times loath to do so, but change begins with a recognition that the “buck stops with me.”
Empowerment begins with the individual; it is not a right given by government, and it begins with individuals taking control of their lives. It is not enough to say, “I would if I could,” or “I would, but I can’t.”
How do we do this? By simply acting as agents of change or by being the change. We can all do this in our lives. We can take responsibility for our weight, our health, our marriages, our families, our business, our nation and the path it is on. After all, aren’t the liberties required to determine our own destiny what those brave men stormed ashore 73 years ago to preserve?
If they are then let’s honor our veterans by accepting responsibility for our actions and by becoming agents of change. If you will, others will as well. Together let’s take charge and fix what is troubling us in our lives and in our communities. I will, and if you need my help to make change in your life, feel free to contact me.