Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven Eleven Eleven: Veteran's Day 2011

Or maybe I should have entitled this post "One One One One One One."

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had ample creative space for writing, but my life has not lacked content for consideration. I’m hoping to write more in the near future, and possibly even re-vamp this blog again for the new year. For the last few years I’ve taken advantage of a feature in Facebook that allows my blogs to insert as ‘notes’, but it appears this function will be discontinued in a few days. For anyone who reads my notes on facebook, I apologize for this change. But enough about all of that logistical stuff…

What an interesting Veteran’s Day! Having a number of friends (and a few family members) who have served in the armed forces, In light of the date as well as the holiday (and a day off), I thought this was the perfect storm for creating a blog post.

First a little bit of history. Veteran’s Day was originally called Armistice day, and it was a day celebrating the end of World War I. It was intended to mark the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. And here we are today marking the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month during the eleventh year of the century. 

Armistice Day was changed to Veteran’s Day in the 1950s as a way to honor the lives of all of those who served in our nation’s armed forces, and not just those who served during World War I.

And today, as I think about my friends and family who have served in various branches of the military, of course I feel compelled to share the story of my friend Jake.

If you have been following my blog for a while, then you are probably familiar with Jake’s story, but if not, let me tell you a bit. Jake and I lived in the dorms together at WVU, and after his sophomore year, he left WVU to attend the United States Naval Academy. He graduated with top honors, was captain of the rugby team, and went on to serve in the Marine Corps as well as a special operations unit called Force Recon. During his time as a platoon commander, he saw a connection between terrorism, insurgency, and extreme poverty and this led him to Stanford University, where he pursued the creation of a non-profit with a new approach to fighting extreme poverty called Nuru International.

Of course those who know me know I’ve been passionate about this work from the moment I first heard about Jake’s research at Stanford. I’m honored to call him my friend, and I’m thankful for the life of service that he has embodied. I featured a video that I’ve shared in the past of him sharing his story. It is a story of his first hand experiences in combat as well as a vision for a world in which our global neighbors living in extreme poverty have the choice to determine their future. 

As I sit in a Starbucks with my wife enjoying a pot of French pressed coffee and write this post on this intriguing date, I am a bit overwhelmed. I'm overwhelmed at the work we have before us to help forge a better world. I'm overwhelmed at the potential we have with the tools, knowledge, and resources we have at our fingertips. And I'm overwhelmed at all of those one's in today's date. 

When we start counting, we start with the number one. If I look at this date as a series of ones instead of a series of elevens, I can't help but think about new starts, like the new start my buddy Jake had when he ventured into grad-school focused on ending extreme poverty. Or the new start that so many people journey into when they start the new year.

And when we think about the term the "eleventh hour" it reminds us of the urgency with which an undertaking needs to be commenced. Today, on Veteran's Day 2011, I feel like there is something beyond the federal holiday to consider, and that something is a new beginning that is taken on with great urgency. 

May we all take a moment to pause, reflect on our lives, and consider this an opportunity for a new start to be commenced with great urgency, and may we all be part of leaving a legacy and building a better world for generations to come as we seek to do justice in this world. 

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