Shortbursts: a few Labor Day reflections

Labor Day is, as the Department of Labor notes, “an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers.”  Every worker is celebrated to include, I would submit, those whose “work” is military service.  Recently I had the opportunity to reconnect with a couple of people with whom I served.

General Charles Q. (“CQ”) Brown, Jr., the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, spoke at Duke last Thursday and I had the honor of seeing him again (he was the keynote speaker for the 2021 LENS Conference) and joining him for a small dinner afterward.  The event was sponsored by Duke’s American Grand Strategy (AGS) program, and the wide-ranging ‘fireside chat’ with General Brown was expertly conducted by Professor Peter Feaver

General Brown and I first crossed paths in the Pentagon when, as a colonel, he served as the Director of the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff Executive Action Group.  What I especially remember about him were his candor and straightforwardness – qualities that are extremely valued in the corridors of the Pentagon.

His frankness also extends to his self-assessment as he recently told a publication that he rated his performance over the last two years as earning just a “C” grade.  I’d rate him way higher!  Among other things his catch-phrase “accelerate change or lose” has authentic relevance in today’s defense environment.   

Over the weekend I had a chance to reconnect with another Air Force member with whom I served, my friend Steve Smith and his lovely wife Jan.  Steve and I were stationed together as captains at Osan Air Base, Korea, and later at Royal Air Force, Upper Heyford, UK, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  I learned a lot from Steve, and I’m very grateful for all his mentorship and friendship, especially during those formative years.

Steve left active duty and had an extremely successful career in private practice, but continued to serve in the Reserves until his military retirement.  He became an expert in tax and, particularly, complex retirement plans – and is still working!  It really is true that it is the people that make military service so special, and Steve is one of those people.  He and I enjoyed recalling our adventures from so many years ago. 

Those serving today still stand strong to defend our nation.  One of those recently sent us a special memento. 

Lawfire® readers will recall hearing about Maj Greg Speirs, currently deployed to the Middle East (see here).  Greg is a graduate of North Carolina Central University School of Law, but took his national security law-related courses at Duke Law through the interinstitutional agreement.

Greg surprised Joy and I with a gift of a flag accompanied by the certificate below:These are now Dunlap family treasures! 

Whether you’ve served our nation in the military or as a civilian, or you’ve used your work ethic, education, training and talents to keep our economy going, teach our children, work on the frontlines in various industries, serve as a first-respoinder, labor in medical fields, invent new products, run small businesses, make products, build homes and facilities, or work in the tech areas, or in many other careers in our great counrty, thank you for what you do to keep America thriving!  

Have a great Labor Day!

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