Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy 4th of July from Boston.... 1st time in 4 years

Time waits for no man.....  

A year ago, I was in Kandahar City on the 4th of July - Now, I am home, and this time for good. No more trips to Afghanistan as three missions there has been quite enough. this is the first 4th of July I've been home since 2009.  
Just wanted to make sure while you are having your holiday and time off for the the 4th, all remember that your military are out there in 120+ degree heat of Afghanistan ( and other places around the world) keeping you safe.   Here were my thoughts from a year ago..... Happy 4th of July to all !!

 4th of July in Kandahar City 2012

 It is the 4th of July here in Kandahar City, Afghanistan.  
The day arrived earlier than stateside due to we are 8 1/2 hours ahead of the US. Most back home are preparing for a night's rest along with some going out on the night before a day off.  
Here in Afghanistan, it is just another day.  

On military bases here, there will be a bit of celebration and some good food at the DFACs ( Dining Facilities). At the same time, many will carry out their normal work of going in harm's way, working to guard the freedom of the people here. All will go about the normal business of the work that occurs here in the war zone.  
Likewise, the work here will go on for me also.

It is another work day and one that has become a bit of a habit for me. This is the 3rd year in a row that I have been here for the 4th of July. I have been working contract work for the past three years and that means being here for most of the year including the summer.  
There will be no BBQs to attend or fireworks ( as the fireworks here are usually a bad thing). The holiday passes quietly here and that is understandable. It is what we have agreed to as part of the deal of working overseas, away from home and family.  
Back home in the USA, things are not all "beer & skittles" either. 1.4 million people in the Mid-Atlantic area are still w/o power due to the thunderstorms that came through earlier this week, 14 million people are unemployed or underemployed ( leaving them w/o work or the type of work they usually would perform) and the majority of our citizens are unhappy with the direction our government has taken over the last 4 years.  
Being away from home is tough at times like this, but so is being at home without work. I have had to deal with that and it is a terrible place to be. Like many others, I have spent a significant number of years working as a manager in HR and now face the new reality that what was of value to employers in the past is undervalued now. The degree and experience I have is treated in the same manner as some look upon an older car.  
Employers are hiring younger workers and paying them 1/2 of what someone like me should earn. This is not just happening to HR professionals, but professionals from all different professions. The recession has given businesses the ability to shed older workers, who carry larger wage & benefit costs and hire younger workers who seek less.  
This trend will wind up hurting companies as they will spend more in training and loss of customer satisfaction. They are acting shortsighted and it is only making things worse economically.  
Don Henley is on my IPAD with the song “The Heart of the Matter” and sings, " These times are so uncertain, there's yearning undefined and people filled with rage..." - very true and accurate even after the 20 years since he wrote the song.  
America finds itself in perilous straits - The economy is sluggish and that is partly due to the 14 million people who are effectively unemployed. They don't have the income they need and that means they are not purchasing goods and services. That in turn holds the economy back. We have a President who acts like an insolent teenager and thinks that it is cool to hang out with Hollywood types. Instead of seeking maturity and competance, his supporters want to act like eternal high schoolers on a spending spree with their parent's credit card. The Middle class is struggling more than ever and all we get from the President is "Party on..." as he parties on the taxpayer's dime.  
We deserve better leadership and the people sitting in the White House & Congress ain't it.....  
The 4th of July is one of the days that makes me think more about the country I love and how difficult it was back in 1776. The signers of the Declaration of Independence faced tough times including the risk of their lives for opposing the King.  
My family has been in America since 1635 so many of my ancestors were there when the Revolutionary War freed our nation.  
The key is that as Americans, we will continue to make our country and the world a better place by our actions. Though we will disagree with each other and argue about what is needed, the outcome will still be an example to others about what can be accomplished if we set our minds to doing something.  
That is essentially what I am doing here in Kandahar City - working to help the people of Afghanistan by leading them to create a better country for themselves and their children. That is the lesson we learned back in 1776 and one we still honor and celebrate today.  
Happy 4th of July to all our military serving abroad, our colleagues working to support them and all back home in the USA.

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