The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally, and are not necessarily representative of Texas Health Resources or its subsidiaries.
Memorial Day. What is our Legacy?
By Ed Marx
As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I was raised under unique circumstances. A couple of years following my father’s escape from a concentration camp, the Red Cross reconnected him with family in the United States. Soon after his trans-Atlantic journey through New York harbor past Lady Liberty, he was drafted in the US Army and granted citizenship. Given his fluency in German and French, he was stationed in Germany where he met my mother. Mom had survived frequent bombings and lost her father on the Russian front. Although raising us predominantly as Germans, my parents instilled in me and my siblings a high value for freedom and democracy—the kind of blessed lifestyle men had sacrificed for before my time.
It was no surprise that many of us kids later joined the armed forces, in part to give back to the country that gave our family opportunity and hope since our arrival in the mid 70’s. I vividly recall the shock of my introduction to military life at age 17. Less than 24 hours following high school graduation, my long locks had been shaved, I was doing push-ups in Ft. Dix, and some guy in a funny hat was yelling at me.
I survived. And my love for country and my respect for those who had given their lives for the good of our nation had been richly deepened. In the subsequent 15 years of service as a Reservist, I never had the opportunity to lead troops into combat; something for which I am both thankful and disappointed. Those of you who have been there understand the sentiment.
In April 2007, I had the most unexpected honor. I was in Washington DC on business and spent some time sightseeing with fellow/former Army officers. One gentleman was the recently retired commanding officer of the Army battalion charged with guarding Arlington Cemetery, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He had prearranged for a couple of us to lay the flowered wreath at the Tomb during the evening changing of the guard. I still get the chills as I recollect that moment: escorted between sober, armed soldiers; laying a measly garland of flowers before a solemn tomb; silently saying “thank you” for the millionth time to men of sacrifice with no identity, lost but never forgotten. (I’m one of those citizens who still tears up at the sight of our flag and the anthem of our great country, so this was as good as it gets.)
The Memorial Day Service my family and I attended this weekend reminded me of the brevity and sanctity of life. Was not life meant to be lived with relevance and significance? Are we living in such a way that benefactors will take time to reflect on our contributions? For some that will mean laying down life in battle, defending our freedoms. For others, service and sacrifice will have a different flavor. Whatever we are called to do, let us impact people positively and serve the forthcoming generations.
I later began to personalize these thoughts in terms of my career. Will fellow employees, customers, and patients remember Edward Marx, 5, 10, or even 50 years from now? Not necessarily the name, but what about the long-term impact? Oh, may it be! Let my employer be a better place for teaching, healing, and discovering as a result of my leadership. Let the decisions I preside over have lasting beneficial effect. May I treat others in such a way that their children and their children’s children will benefit. May I always keep the long-term in mind to avoid compromise or complacency. Let me leave my employer a better place than when I arrived. Yes, my time here will have mattered!
If no one remembered my name, would they place a metaphoric wreath at my tomb in honor of the legacy I left behind?
What about you? What will your legacy be?
Ed Marx is senior vice president and CIO at Texas Health Resources in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. (Use the “add a comment” function at the bottom of each post.) You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook, and you can follow him via Twitter – User Name “marxists.”