It is that time of year…early June when the news cycle reminds us of that day, June 6th, 1944 – D-Day. Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers have ensured what was done by so few so many years ago will not be forgotten, at least for another generation. Well done Spielberg and Hanks. Yet I always find myself thinking of what happened two years before D-Day, well two years and two days…June 4th, 1942…Midway. Those two days bookend the World War II experience, and it tells us all a bit about how we see our lives.
Two years and two days, all that separates one of the most desperate dawns from one of the most momentous days in US history. The Miracle of Midway…that moment when the war in the Pacific quite literally hung in the balance. In those dark days of 1942 the Empire of Japan had overran everything and everyone in their path – they were on a monster winning streak. And it was at Midway that they were finally and soundly beaten. But it was as close a run thing as almost any moment in history…literally the battle could have gone either way. Without a doubt, the finest day in US Naval history. Truly a miracle.
As desperate as that dawn was in June of 1942, by June of 1944 the issue was no longer in doubt. Within two short years everything about World War II had changed. There was no question of ultimate victory for the allies – when and how was still up in the air of course, but ultimate victory was a given. On that morning in Normandy all the efforts, training, focus and dedication of a nation and world came to a glorious head. It was a brutal day, and there were many more hard days to come, but the success of D-Day was all but assured before the landings even happened.
We live in a society of “right now”, instant reward and immediate gratification. A 24 hour news cycle and an absolute lack of patience, an almost insane focus on the short-term. Monthly and Quarterly reports, weekly conference calls and a “what have you done for me lately” mindset. Absolutely there are positives to all this information, but they are all short-term. There is a time and a place for everything, and short-term goals and information has to feed the ultimate long-term, strategic goals. Context is everything…it is never as good or as bad as it seems in the moment. It was not then, and it is not now.
Sometimes it is good to take a quick look around and remember the ultimate goal. They were able to back then, we certainly should be able to now. Think of what might happen in our world if we just have a little patience.