A package arrived a few days ago, just in time for my annual ritual. Every year, I take some vacation time and spend Thanksgiving week watching the entire Band of Brothers miniseries that chronicles the exploits of the U.S. Army’s Easy Company, a unit of the 101st Airborne, during World War II. This year I will be adding The Pacific to the viewing lineup, an equally well-done miniseries that follows three Marines and their comrades as they battled on the other side of the globe.

I do this, at this time of year, for several reasons. I make my living as a journalist, so I greatly appreciate the freedom of the press that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. I also greatly appreciate the men and women of our military who selflessly sacrifice to protect that and all of the freedoms we enjoy. November not only is when Thanksgiving occurs, it also is the month in which we celebrate Veterans Day. So, the time always has seemed right for my little ritual. (Veterans Day is today, by the way, so if you see someone in uniform, take a moment to say thank you.)

Other reasons for doing this are more personal. My grandfather served in the Naval Reserve during World War II. He didn’t see action — he was stationed as an anti-aircraft gunnery trainer in New Orleans — but he did receive a Purple Heart, though I don’t know why. One of my uncles did see action in the Pacific, and was on deck when a kamikaze pilot crashed his plane into the ship. The blast concussion cost my uncle his hearing in one ear. Finally, one of my cousins — a second cousin actually — served during the Vietnam War as a medic with the Green Berets. He went willfully, even though he had a college deferment. He somehow came through it unscathed and later became a chiropractor.

When I first contemplated what I would do with my life, my first thought was to become a firefighter. I was nudged onto another path, however, and became a journalist instead. I never imagined that I would be writing about the things that I’m writing about today. Rather, I hoped to become a baseball writer. The level wouldn’t have mattered — the minor leagues would have been just fine—as baseball is one of my passions. As a kid, I would spend hours playing the game in its various forms throughout the spring, summer and fall. On wintry days — and there are plenty of them in Chicago, where I always have lived — I played a baseball board game with religious fervor, even doing the play by play. My father would smirk whenever he caught me doing this. I’m not sure if it was because it amused him, or because he was pleased that I was so into baseball, a sport that he also loved. I’m guessing that it was a little of both.

So, it only seemed natural to me that I would write about baseball someday. That didn’t work out either. But I have no regrets. I like being the editor of Urgent Communications and its sister publication, Fire Chief. I like to think that the stories we produce help officials make better decisions concerning the communications equipment that military personnel and first responders use in the field and, in the case of Fire Chief, the tactics that they use when protecting our lives and property. I especially like to think that better-informed decisions by the officials who read these publications help to keep our nation’s true heroes safer.

Such thoughts help me sleep well at night. More importantly, they motivate me to get out of bed in the morning.

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