One of the life lessons my father took away from service in the armed forces was a broad exposure to all types of people; types of people he would have never met or even imagined in the blue collar factory town where he (and later, I,) grew up.
There were cowboys from Nebraska, Jews from New York’s garment district, a hoity haberdasher from Chicago, Black farmers from Alabama, cocky wanna-be pilots from California, first generation Italian-Americans, and more. It turns out that their diversity made his unit all the better—from their differences came remarkable strength and resiliency.
My dad’s wartime experiences were a microcosm of what I’ve learned still to be true in my own work. Interacting with all sorts of people, from all sorts of backgrounds, bringing all sorts of experiences and perspectives, is how we achieve our best solutions. We also become more empathetic. More than ever in our communities and jobs, we can embrace our differences while knowing that we have far more in common than we ever realized. It is both that variety—and commonality—that we should celebrate and use for good.
Bruce J. Annett, Jr.
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