- Freedom to say what we think
- Freedom to worship whenever we desire
- Freedom to choose our electorate.
These freedoms, that we often take for granted, make us the envy of the world. I say this in spite of an American and worldwide press that would have us believe that we are despised and detested. In fact, we are what others only dream about.
I had the opportunity of having the responsibility for growing a Luxembourg and Bermuda insurance company. We purchased that company in December of 1993. It was a small ($79 million in assets) company without product and without representatives. I volunteered to take responsibility and headed off to Europe to build a field force, oversee the operations, and turn the company into a profitable organization. We were, by far, the smallest of our competitors, plus I had never been to Europe!
My staff of twenty spoke nineteen languages! I felt a little insecure knowing only bare bones Italian that I had learned from my mother and grandparents, a little French, and a ton of grammatical errors!
But, I had one great advantage over my staff- I was an American. That didn’t grant me immediate acceptance, but it gave me a basis from which to help grow that little company into a force to be reckoned with. I assured my staff that I didn’t want to change their culture or heritage. I wanted to combine the best of American ingenuity and entrepreneurialism with the traditions, pride, and culture of Europe. We were off to the races! A true success story.
The Europeans hungered for American marketing. They liked the fact we made decisions quickly. They also like the fact that everyone, including myself, would get their “hands dirty.” There was no job to menial for the head guy!
I was proud of America and never hid that fact. My new and ongoing European friends took me on many tours. In Sweden, I went to the border and saw the Russian tanks standing guard. I took the train from Milan to Switzerland and saw the remnants of Nazi occupation. I saw the US cemetery in Luxembourg which looks like Arlington in Virginia. The headstones are shiny and the gates are rimmed in gold. American flags fly in abundance. The locals care for this cemetery. General George Patton’s birthday is a national holiday! Contrast this with the German cemetery 50 yards away that is overgrown, dark, and dingy.
Oh, some Europeans and others will disagree. Some governments go to great lengths to distance themselves. But, they admire and respect what we have been able to do in just over two hundred years. Maybe that’s why we are referred to as “The Great Experiment”.
So, our forefathers have given us an opportunity to chart our own course and seek out our own destiny. This opportunity was, and still is, protected by Americans who gave and continue to give their lives so that we can continue our wonderful way of life.
I can never give to America what our brave men and women have given- their lives. I can only thank them. I can also put my “woes” in perspective, live my life, work my job, and be the best I can be. it would be an insult to our soldiers to do less.