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Service and the Dignity of Work

Two things had me digging through my father’s military scrapbook. First, we recently profiled a few military veterans working in our member companies. Secondly, I have struggled with the 20th anniversary of my father’s death. The confluence of the two got me thinking about service and the dignity of work.

My father was a paratrooper in the 187th Airborne AAA Battery during the Korea War. And when I looked through his scrapbook, I found a 1953 Christmas dinner menu from Camp Wood Japan. His service, like many military personnel before and after him, kept him far from home during the holidays.

I can’t fathom how lonely that dinner might have felt for a kid from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia had it not been for the companionship of his fellow servicemen. So, as I scanned the menu to find all the familiar holiday favorites like turkey and cranberry sauce, I noticed something remarkable.

After the list of holiday treats, the company thanked by name, the cooks who prepared the feast. Mess steward W. Morris was helped by J.H. Warren, H. Cendrowski, J. Abraham, L. Lucas, and J. Clark. This recognition reminded me that my dad always went out of his way to thank waitstaff, cashiers and even line cooks in restaurants. He believed that everyone deserved praise for a job well done regardless of their station in life.

As a kid, this seemed a little eccentric but now I see how his thanks as a simple way to honor the dignity of work. He took the time to really see and acknowledge people. What a gift.

This Christmas seems like the perfect time to remember his example and try harder to live up to it. So, I will take the time to see and honor the service that keeps our military men and women far from home. The service that keeps our cars running. The service that rings up our purchases and stocks our favorite beverages.

And sixty-five years later, I want to thank the cooks who fed my father one Christmas at Camp Wood Japan—W. Morris, J.H. Warren, H. Cendrowski, J. Abraham, L. Lucas, and J. Clark thank you for your service.



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