• Quotes to Contemplate – May 29, 2017

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  • Vern Clair Baum

    I Stopped Honoring My Gramps on Memorial Day. You Should Too. Here’s Why.


    Memorial Day is set aside to honor those who have died while serving in the armed forces of the United States of America. This differs from Veteran’s Day on which we honor all those who have served in the armed forces.

    This might seem a bit perplexing to some, or even a little redundant. I have thought so too in the past. This year, however, I have been thinking a lot about my gramps, Vern Clair Baum. He was a drafted US Marine who served on Iwo Jima as well as the following occupation of Japan. Iwo Jima was one of the most brutal of WWII battles.

    Vern lived to be 81 years old. He died on January 9, 2001. Almost to the day 55 years after being honorably discharged from the Marine Corp January 31, 1946. I cannot imagine the horrors he saw. How he maintained any faith in humanity I do not know. I am not even sure how he maintained his senses. Yet, he did; all the while creating a simple, rich life for his wife and children and his grandchildren to come.

    My gramps deserves honor. Both for the service he gave our country and for the life he lived thereafter. Hence, Veterans Day makes sense to me. I can relate.

    Memorial Day is another story. I cannot relate. I don’t know anyone who has lost their life in the armed forces. I struggle to even think of a distant acquaintance. I suspect I am not alone, if for no other reason than this: there are two things you can count on, one is you will die, and two, you will soon be forgotten.

    This fact is the crux of the reason we have Memorial Day and not only Veterans Day. Because those who have given their lives are in grave danger of being forgotten too soon. My gramps would often say, “The real heroes are the ones who never came home.” This is so common a phrase among combat veterans it is almost a mantra. This is the haunting chant of the likes of Ira Hayes who came to ruin by the pomp and circumstance surrounding his part in the raising of a flag for an “after the fact” photo atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. So popular was the photo the Marine Memorial in Washington DC is a depiction.

    While I seek to honor my gramps every day of my life by the way I live, and in a special way on Veteran’s Day, I will not be honoring him on Memorial Day. Rather I will memorialize those who I don’t remember. Those I never knew. Those who never had an opportunity to influence the world beyond the battle field. You likely don’t know them either. They are heroes. Gramps would want it that way.

    I realized when I was formatting this article to post I had cropped my gramps’ buddy out of the featured picture. It occurred to me perhaps he is one of those who deserves special honor on Memorial Day. No one in our family knows who he is or was. I am compelled to put his picture here.

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  • Graduation Gift

    The Most Revolutionary Graduation Gift You Can Give Your Kid: I Know Because I Got It


    (2 minute read)

    “To buy a gift is kind, but to give a gift for free that brings a lifetime of ever growing reward is pure genius.” –Jamie Cearley, PhD

    I was not deprived as a child. I had nice clothes, cool shoes, and a car of my own. I confess, most of the time I got what I wanted.

    By all accounts I was a successful high school graduate. I had a good GPA. I would be attending an excellent private four year liberal arts school out of state on a combination athletic and academic scholarship. There I would receive an outstanding education both in life and academics.

    Yet, without one special gift my parents gave me upon graduation, to this day it would have been a disaster. It is the only gift I remember getting from them for graduation. I am sure there must have been some money in there somewhere; or a book filled with wisdom. Perhaps I got one of those fancy Cross pen and pencil sets that were so popular, I don’t know. I do remember getting some towels for my dorm room. Why would I remember the towels? Because I still have a semblance of one of them in my rag cabinet after all these years.

    While the towels lasted as long they weren’t as valuable as the other gift I remember. A gift every kid deserves to have. A timeless gift that will benefit them for a lifetime.

    Best of all it’s free.

    A budget.

    For the first time in my life I was managing my own money flow; or should I say trickle. I got $100 a month deposited into my bank account at school and the rest was up to me.

    My mom had helped me to calculate the cost of my needs and to keep track of my spending the summer before I left for school far away.

    Allowing me to live with an unlimited flow of cash, or worse yet plastic would have been the single greatest long term disservice my parents could have done.

    No one lives on earth for free and the younger a person has this principle embedded in their mind the better.

    Learning to not spend more than you have is a priceless lesson at any age. But, college is a time when the credit companies are like piranha after you.

    Whether you’re child goes away to college, stays home and attends the local school, or works to acquire a trade, help them set up a budget and put a cap on the amount of money put into their account each month.

    I would also encourage you to not allow adult children to continue to live at home for free.

    There are more adult children living with their parents in America than ever before. Many of these are living there for free, creating an unfair financial burden on their parents. What’s more, many of them spend their days playing video games and such like and at best have a part-time minimum wage job and yet still contribute nothing to their care.

    There is no greater disservice to a child I can think of. They are being set up for a lifetime of hardship and disappointment. At a minimum they should pay rent in an amount disproportionate to their income. Why disproportionate? Because they need some motivation to improve their circumstances in life. Becoming financially independent, which by the way is my definition of a true adult, should be attractive.

    To all those out there with a dependent graduating this year. Give them the gift of a lifetime. Give them a budget. They will thank you for decades to come.

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