I’ll admit it: I didn’t know what to write about this month in this magazine where I’ve written editor’s notes for about 13 years. There were plenty of column ideas rattling around in my head and in my reporter’s notebooks and iPhone voice memos. My interview at Schwab Impact with Liz Ann Sonders and Kathy Jones on advisors worrying about interest rates and investing came to mind. I could relay the insights from one of my favorite interviewees over the years—Neal Hennessy of Hennessy Funds—who said during Impact that he thinks a 20,000 DJIA is likely over the next two or three years, and why he’s so bullish on Japan. Since we’re just now coming out of advisor conference season—I’ve attended conferences over the past two months sponsored by IRI, Commonwealth Financial, Pershing, Fidelity, Junxure and Schwab, to name just a few—I’ve gleaned insights galore on robo-advisors and liquid alts, on portfolio construction and behavioral finance.
Instead, I’ve decided to write about Veterans Day. On Nov. 11, there was a parade in New York and a “Concert for Valor” in Washington. Some people had the day off from work. Senator John McCain just published a book, “13 Soldiers,” that tells the story of American wars via profiles of 13 Americans who served in those wars. There was plenty of media and arts coverage, in this year marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, that the War to End All Wars ended at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. What is now Veterans Day in this country was once called Armistice Day, to celebrate the end of that war.
So what do you do to remember veterans on the 364 other days of the year? Turns out that many of you, and the companies you work for or partner with, remember veterans and their needs and their families all year long in ways both small and large.
At Impact, my colleague Gil Weinreich asked my other colleague, the executive managing editor of this magazine, Danielle Andrus, to thank her father for his long military aviation service. At the Junxure conference, I personally thanked Zohar Swaine, formerly of TD Ameritrade and now an in-demand consultant, for his Army service during Desert Storm. The busy Skip Schweiss of TD Ameritrade nevertheless spends time helping arrange “Honor Flights” for World War II veterans to their memorial in Washington. At ThinkAdvisor.com, for several years we’ve published slideshows honoring veterans who are advisors now or who partner with advisors (including some who might surprise you, like Harold Evensky and Bill Gross). Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger tweeted on Nov. 11 that the company was honored to be named a “2015 Military Friendly Employer” by the publisher of GI Jobs and Military Spouse magazines—Schwab is not the only financial services firm named to that list.
The story in my family is that my father’s hair was dark before his four years in the Pacific theater during World War II. When he came out, after spending quality time in places like Guadalcanal and New Guinea and the Philippines, his hair was all white. By chance, the father of Mark Tibergien, he told me, also served difficult duty in the south Pacific during WWII. Of course, many other service members and their families lose much more important faculties than hair, including their lives. That’s just one reason to remember their sacrifice and those of their families.
So many of us live such comfortable lives without pausing to consider that, that comfort is partly paid for by the relatively few among us who have and are and will surrender their comforts by serving. The least we can do is thank them when we meet them, make sure they’re given good care and a leg up when their fighting days are over and, yes, we can even hire them.