Veterans Day Story

On Veterans Day (Nov 12, 2012), my buddy Mark Faust shared this touching story about his uncle.

Read and be inspired.

On this Veterans Day I remembered my hero, Uncle Eddie.

On occasion Capt. Edward Promberger was called a terrorist by some, even himself.

I notice now that business leaders are often referred to as something less than heroes, and worse, some even doubt if they have a higher purpose in their call.

My uncle piloted over 50 missions in a B-17 bomber in Europe. On several occasions he and his nine crew members were called back from a mission, but when hope was not lost Capt. Promberger would ask every one of his men if they were willing to complete the mission.

Eddie always thought about the fact that many of the men were married and some even had children. He looked at piloting that plane as if he had nine families he was caring for, not just nine men. Only if every man said yes, would he press on with these missions aborted by central command. On more than one occasion their plane would be the only one to complete the mission and then they would attempt a lonely return to home base.

A crew had a one in four chance of completing a tour, 25 missions. So it wasn’t often for a crew to re-up once let alone twice, but this crew stuck together for three tours. Throughout the war and their 57 missions, not one man was lost.

On one mission my uncle’s plane was hit by flak and his co-pilot and he were injured. My uncle’s vision blurred with blood, but he never considered retreat. Among many other medals, my uncle was awarded two distinguished flying crosses and a purple heart.

Uncle Eddie never married. I heard that he didn’t want to put someone through his frequent nightmares. He would wake up seeing a mission where bombs he dropped hit what he later found out to be an orphanage, a target he was ordered to bomb. He lived with those visions until his seventies. When he returned home, his first and only love, the woman who promised to marry him, was already engaged.

My mom told me one of my uncle’s happiest moments was seeing my three-year-old son and holding his hand. It was on that occasion that in a very quiet voice he shared several of his war stories that he had never shared before. One was of a particularly rough mission where three engines were hit. He ordered the crew to drop all the bombs and guns into the sea and then to jump to safety on an island well before getting to the home base. He so respected the Boeing plane he flew. He was able to land that plane and walk away. Later after the war when the Memphis Bell was touring the US he drove out to see it. He asked the General if he could fly it. The General said, “Capt. Promberger you can fly any g**damn plane you want!”

Events of late have caused some business leaders to consider retreat. To just give up, retire, sell out or whatever, rather than completing the mission. How many families count on you and your leadership? Are you even giving a hint of thought to retreat?

The scars of that war are still felt today. One joy for my uncle though was that in that in the last year of his life he met up with his first and only true love. She was a widow. In fact during his last waking hour, as he lay in the bed of the VA hospital, the hand of his true love, was in in his, and he died with a smile on his face.

Mission accomplished.

Never, never, never give up

Shiva Murugan Temple in Concord, CA

It was Dec 1998. I was sitting down in the courtyard with my eyes shut. Tears poured down my eyes. These tears surprised me. My heart, that many of you say is made of steel, was melting. I realized they were tears of surrender rather than sadness or weakness. So, I let the tears flow.

I had entered the country (US) as a student in Sept 1997.

1.5 years had passed.
1.5 years of hard work… studying, working and researching without adequate rest or food.
1.5 years away from my home country, away from the love, care and warmth of family and friends.
1.5 years of uncertainty.

I had another 6 months ahead of me to graduate and find some stability..with a job, a home and some dollars.

That is where I found myself in Dec 1998. That winter, I had traveled across the country from cold West Lafayette, IN to warm Sacramento, CA. My best friends’ brother drove us to Concord, CA to see the Shiva Murugan Temple. I entered the temple, sat down in the courtyard, looked at our beloved Concord Murugan and let the tears flow.

I am not religious. However, that day, as I sat in the Concord temple courtyard, I found immense calm and incredible strength to tackle what lay ahead of me.

I think I might have said something that God really heard. Since that day in Dec 1999, I only found roads that lead ahead. I found ways to cross chasm. I found ways to open doors. I found the strength to climb mountains.

Many of you have told me that you love going to Concord Temple…because of friendly priests and serene atmosphere. I feel the same way.

My dear friends Solai Alagappan, Prabhu Venkatesh Subramanian, Uday Meyyappan, Sarav Narma, Palani Annamalai, Ganesh Sigamani have now started a big movement that will pave the way for a new temple in Concord which will be a place of gathering for generations to come.

As a way to start this BIG fundraising effort for temple construction, they are holding a fundraiser on Nov 18, 2012.

It is a fun fundraiser…a grand Diwali Light Music Concert.

Be a part of the Concord Temple movement. Buy tickets here.

What is your “special” Concord Temple story? What is your special place of worship? What are you doing to pass on your beliefs and culture to the next generation? What movement are you a part of?

What is that one life defining moment in a church, mosque, temple..or at an oceanside, seashore, hilltop…tell me when we meet next time.

I will see you at the Concord Temple fundraiser on Nov 18, 2012.

Trip to Canada and Seattle

Kumar and I hiked, biked and walked through Seattle and Canada(Vancouver, Whistler, Victoria, Sooke and adjacent towns) in the last few days.

There are no words to capture all the natural beauty, the man made wonders and the rich cultural history through which we took a fast paced tour.

I will sum up the trip (as I always do after every trip) with the following words:

2 eyes and 1 lifetime is not enough to see all the beauty of this planet that we call home.

The camera doesn’t do justice at all to the wonder we felt. However, Kumar and I tried our best to capture all the wonder we felt through digital images.

I am sure you will enjoy viewing these pictures as much as we enjoyed clicking these pictures.

I will leave you with a few lines from a Tamil song –
Poovukkul Olinthirukkum Kanikkoottam Adhisayam,
Vannaththu Poochchigalinmael Oaviyangal Adhisayam,
Thulaisellum Kaatru Mellisaiyaadhal Adhisayam,
Gurunaadhar Illaadha Kuyil Paattu Adhisayam

Translated into English these lines mean the following:
Fruits hidden within flowers are a wonder,
Paintings on a butterfly wings are a wonder,
Music created by wind going through a small hole is a wonder,
Cuckoo(that has no music teacher)’s song is a wonder