To the editor:
First, I want to express my sincere appreciation to each of you for your time and being part of something that, for me, has been one of the most personally meaningful and rewarding experiences of my life. Thank you also for your wonderful hospitality extended to us, to myself, my daughter, Anita, and our good friend, Ron Turner.
I especially want to thank our new friend, Jamie Whitman, who, with some of his students at Sidney High School, immediately and so enthusiastically, became such a vital part of our joint project to honor the memory and service of Sgt. Forest W. Blackford, my squad leader in Korea, who was killed in action on March 14, 1952, at the age of only 25.
On Sunday, we visited his grave at the Cedar Point Cemetery in Pasco.
Our gathering together in Sidney was the culmination of everything that has taken place during the past nine months of development of this project. And what you and your organizations represent are examples of the reasons — the “why” — American service people fight to preserve and protect our liberty and freedom in so many areas of our lives.
Thank you to Mayor Barhorst and other in public service in our democratic form of government.
Thank you to Tammi Johnson, Sidney High School librarian, along with our system of public libraries, with the freedom to access books of all genre and titles.
Thank you to Tilda Philpot and the Shelby County Historical Society, helping to preserve history, today and for future generations.
Thank you to Phil Abbott, volunteer, and the unique role of voluntarism and its valuable contribution to American society.
Thank you to Patricia Speelman and the Sidney Daily News where stories of interest to many can be published in a free and independent press.
In his book titled, “The Stuff of Heroes,” William A. Cohen, Ph.D, and retired Major General with the the U.S. Air Force Reserve, discusses his list of “The Eight Universal Laws of Leadership.” He provides numerous examples from both military and civilian life. These eight laws are, and I quote from his book with permission from the author:
1. Maintain absolute integrity
2. Know your stuff
3. Declare your expectations
4. Show uncommon commitment
5. Expect positive results
6. Take car of your people
7. Put duty before self
8. Get out in front
I believe Sgt. Forest W. Blackford adhered to these leadership principles. This is the way I would like to honor him.
I am passing on my personal copy of this book to my friend, Jamie Whitman, leader and teacher of leaders of the future.