Hayden Collins speaks in Calhoun to Mohawk Industries’ Silver Circle on the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
I told the group of senior employees about my relative Austin Collins, who was one of the sailors serving on the USS Arizona, a battleship that was lost during the attack. For Austin it was an ordinary Sunday morning on duty and in the service of the U.S Navy. The family was not given many details and we didn’t know whether he was on duty at the time, but do know he gave his all for the defense of the ship and his fellow sailors.
In fact, it took some time for the family to get the news of Austin’s being involved in the attack. And when the family received the news Austin had been “kilt”, several of my direct family members joined up, including cousins, uncles and my own father. My father had to lie about his age in order to serve in the U.S. Navy. Losing their kin may have gotten them stirred, but they felt called to join up as their duty to God, Family and Country.
For myself and for the Collins family, it is a tradition for members of each generation to serve in the armed forces. For us it is the passing on of leadership, and a tradition of duty.
I also talked about another attack, and another group of service members who came to the defense: the ones who recently helped to contain an active shooter at Ohio State. These individuals had finished their tours of duty and returned to civilian life. They were among the students attending classes that day, but they responded immediately to the threat, and put themselves back on duty – much as my relatives responded by joining up after the Pearl Harbor attack: to protect others. These individuals of exceptional character continue to serve the Constitution, even when they’re no longer in uniform.
There are some experiences that cannot be taught in books, but one generation needs to pass on to the next. I urged the Mohawk audience to pass on their knowledge and experience to their fellow workers who are not yet in the Silver Circle. Passing on leadership, and the response to duty is generational.
I was glad to have the honor and opportunity to talk about Austin Collins’s sacrifice on this the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and I thank Mohawk’s Silver Circle for the invitation.