I normally don't let too much of my personal life bleed into this blog, but this is a different case. My family is mourning the loss of my nephew, Corporal James Mazza Jr. Jimmy was a great kid who grew up to be an outstanding young man and a proud Marine. In his passing, I have come to realize some of the great lessons I can learn from him.
- Don't cry because it's over, smile because is happened - Jimmy loved that line, and I can now understand how well it truly fits. Life is way to short to spend it in regret. Enjoy the gift you have today fully - consume all the adventure and joy around you....
- If you are going to do something, do it all the way. Jimmy took every new challenge as an opportunity to kick it up a notch. He applied this in sport, study and service - every day. That is a view most of the best and brightest share and it is what makes them so successful.
- The bonds we form with those who share our struggle and adversity are stronger than any challenge. While Jimmy served only a few years with his unit, his Marine buddies were as close a family as the one he left at home. His buddies all came up here for his funeral and, as hard as it is for a former Army guy to say, these were some of the finest young men I have ever had the privilege to meet.
- The seeds we sow can bring a huge return, IF we sow and tend them well. Jimmy was a great person and he truly had a positive impact on just about every life he touched. His Dad is a Police Officer and his Mom is a Teacher. Together, the three of them have touched and saved or improved countless lives. When Jimmy died, the community responded in a way that can best be described as heroic. Sort of like the folks of Bedford Falls all chipping in to help George Bailey, the community delivered a crop of compassion from the seeds of service they planted.
- Organizations are only as strong as the devotion they show to their people. The Marines are an extraordinarily tough organization and they draw all the dirtiest and most dangerous missions, yet they are still viewed as elite and membership in their ranks is considered to be an privilege - hard to earn and with you for life if you get it. In seeing the respect, dignity and compassion with which they treat their fallen comrades and the families they leave behind, I now understand how the bonds of this fraternity are formed and the loyalty they share amongst themselves is a reward in itself.