SUNDAY MORNING INSPIRATION: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

It’s Memorial Day Weekend here in the States. This time of year always makes me think of my Dad, who passed in 1997 at age 73. He served in the Navy in WWII. I did not know until I was a teenager that he was a decorated war hero. He only spoke about it once, with a very far away stare in his eyes, as he talked about he and a friend pulling men out of the lower decks when his ship was torpedoed in the Pacific. He and his friend received second and third degree burns and lots of medals for their heroics.

I miss him at this time of year, for many reasons. The greatest of which this year is that he would really love the life I’m privileged to enjoy with Maritza, Jonathon and Caleb, and what I get to do for a living (although he would not understand what I do for a living).

So then I am reminded how none of us got here alone. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, whether they be our parents, teachers, friends or mentors. If we are truly fortunate then we stand on the shoulders of all four.

I believe we are then called to do at least two things:

1) Thank those on whose shoulders we stand, both living and not, and

2) Make the very most of what we have been given, making the very biggest positive difference that we can…

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Jeff Herring

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  • Liz

    Reply Reply

    Jeff, I always love and look forward to your Sunday Morning Inspiration. Today is very special for two reason:
    1- You are so right. We didn’t get to where we are alone and we need to remember and recognize All the people that paved the road for us to travel on and at the same time make our own contribiution.
    2- Because your Sunday Morning message today shows a very personal side of your life and all the blessings and wonderful people that you are greatful for. I am sure they feel the same way about you.
    I’m off to count my own blessings and show gratitude and appreciation.

  • Jeff Herring

    Reply Reply

    Liz – Thanks for your support!

    ~ Jeff

  • Jeff Herring

    Reply Reply

    Maritza – that’s my favorite part too…

    ~ Jeff

  • I hope everyone enjoys this Memorial Day… and remember all the wonderful heroes past & present like your Dad.

    My favorite part of your post

    “2) Make the very most of what we have been given, making the very biggest positive difference that we can…”

  • Liana Carbon

    Reply Reply

    I’d like to share something with you about my dad, who was amazingly progressive way before it became popular. He was a mere child during the first World War, living in Italy. During WW2, he was not yet old enough to join, but he wanted very much to contribute in any way he could. He put his Italian ingenuity to work and figured out a way to help. He knit gloves for the soldiers.

    In the 40s, it was not “seemly” for men to knit, but his mom had taught him how when he was but a youngster. He knew that the soldiers needed to keep their hands warm during the bitter winters, and this was how he could help. He simply disregarded the comments people made, and let them know that if they weren’t willing to contribute somehow, then they had no business opening their mouths to complain.

    It was this indomitable willingness to eschew societal perceptions of “right” and “wrong” that he passed on to me. He always encouraged me to do what I wanted, not what others planned for me. I’m 65 now, and have had an extraordinary life because I pursued things I wanted, not the usual jobs that women were supposed to have. Yes, he had very strong moral fiber, coming from a Catholic background, and he also had great determination to make a better way of life for himself and his family. He didn’t believe in the “glass ceiling” (a moniker which didn’t exist in the 40s and 50s), and way before it was acceptable, he promoted women to managerial, supervisory and upper level positions in the company. It never occurred to me that women couldn’t do whatever they wanted. He was my Bella Abzug, my Gloria Steinem, and he was a man.

    I owe him my life, my values, my gift of seeing a way to contribute regardless of the setbacks. I thank my Papi for all the life’s lessons he so generously imparted.

  • Virginia Wright

    Reply Reply

    Hi Jeff,
    This is one of those days I wish was celebrated more often not only to remember those we owe our freedoms to but to recognize as well we wouldn’t have them otherwise.
    My dad passed in 75 at the age of 47 (I was 19) but not before he’d done his part in the Army at the end of the Korean Conflict and then again twice in Vietnam. He received the Purple Heart.
    Whenever I run into a dilemna, I wonder “Dad, how would you handle this?”
    I still miss him so much.
    God Bless America and our “Freedom Warriors”

  • Jeff,

    I thought this was a great post. We don’t have a Memorial Day in the UK. We celebrate Armistice Day instead. My father was a glider pilot in WW2 and similarly would never talk about what happened even though he won an MC in the Sicily invasion and went through Arnhem ( 230 glider pilots were killed in that battle )

    He died at a similar age in 1994 and I think of him often and more so as I get older. I marvel at what he and his comrades did ( from all the Allied countries ) and how they found the courage to do it.

    They were undoubtedly giants.

  • Jeff Herring

    Reply Reply

    Thanks Liana for sharing about your dad – I be he’s proud of you!

    ~ Jeff

  • Kevin

    Reply Reply

    Happy Memorial Day–let’s never forget..

    It is the VETERAN, not the preacher,
    who has given us freedom of religion.

    It is the VETERAN, not the reporter,
    who has given us freedom of the press.

    It is the VETERAN, not the poet,
    who has given us freedom of speech.

    It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer,
    who has given us freedom to assemble.

    It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer,
    who has given us the right to a fair trial.

    It is the VETERAN,not the politician,
    Who has given us the right to vote.

    It is the VETERAN who salutes the flag,
    serves under the flag,
    and whose coffin is draped by the flag,


    God Bless them all!!!

  • Thank you so much for sharing Liana, Peter, Virginia and Kevin your personal stories. I went with Jeff to visit his Father at Arlington Cemetery and it was so very moving to see all the love and respect for all who are there… and to whom we have so much to thank.

  • You did it again, Jeff. Your Sunday Morning Inspirations always tug at my heart, but when I saw this one, well… all I can say is you did it again.

    My Dad served in the Navy during WWII and my Mom served in the Marine Corps during WWII.

    My Dad never said much (like most Dad’s who came back from the War) but I know he served aboard ship in the Pacific and spent many hot and miserable hours in the boiler room. I have his Navy picture in my office and it reminds me of how young those men (boys, really) were who went to war for us. Makes me sad to see that fresh face and know how many, like your Dad, were wounded or taken so young. But, like I said, he didn’t talk much about it. I think he just thought it was his duty and accepted it as such.

    My Mom was one of the many women who joined the Marines to take the place of the men Marines in Washington DC so they could go fight. This effort freed up hundreds of thousands of Marines for battle. These women went to boot camp in Camp LeJeune just like the men. She was prouder of her service than I think she was of anything she ever did in life. She didn’t talk a lot about it, but when the television station signed off at night (like they used to do), if we kids were still sitting there, we had to stand and put our hand over our heart when the National Anthem was played.

    They’re both gone now – my Dad since 1987, my Mom since 2006. I miss them more every year as I get older. I wish I’d asked more questions about their years in the military. I wish I’d asked more questions about a lot of things. But, that’s what young people do; they don’t know the value of their parents, grandparents, or other elders. And, we all think we have more time to learn.

    Anyway, that’s the thoughts I had today. Thanks again, Jeff, for sharing your father’s story and letting us share ours.

  • Thanks Jeff for posting my video. Last Friday night (May 28th) I wasn’t able to sleep due to the fact that the melody to TAPS kept playing in my head…plus the words Remember the Veterans. (Both my father and brother were Vets…both gone but not forgotten).

    There’s more to this. When you get the chance go to and you can read what took place in the video clip.

    Thanks for caring and sharing!
    Kathy Bee

  • Jeff Herring

    Reply Reply

    Peter – Yeah, I really marvel at their courage and what they did too…it really is amazing, and I, like you, am grateful.

    ~ Jeff

  • Jeff Herring

    Reply Reply

    Virginia – You are so blessed to have had a father that impacted you in such a way that you can ask yourself “What would Dad do in this situation?”

    You honor him every time you ask that question.

    ~ Jeff

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