• Davis Young

My father, Lt. Col. Walter Young, West Point, Class of 1926.


Today is the 79th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Roosevelt said December 7, 1941 was “a date which will live in infamy.” I was two years old then and six when World War II ended.


I didn’t see much of my father in those years. We were primarily in New Jersey. He was away serving his country, mainly training recruits in Florida and California. He was scheduled to deploy to Guam but became ill in advance of that. The plane he was to have gone on crashed on the way. No survivors.


Growing up, my father had no higher goal than to go to West Point. He flunked the physical because he didn’t meet the minimum height standard. So he went off to Virginia Military Institute for two years and took the physical again. Better luck the second time. He had a late growth spurt and had reached the towering height of 5’4”. He started all over at West Point for another four years, graduating 147th in a class of 152. But, he graduated.

In roughly 2005, I visited West Point to check on his headstone. My mother is buried there next to that marker. I happened upon the athletic field house which contains a treasure trove of sports memorabilia. The sun had set and I approached an elderly gentleman at the reception desk. Excuse me I said, but my father was captain of your 1926 wrestling team and I’m sure there must be a picture somewhere. He responded, Go down this long hall and you will come to some stairs on your right. Walk up to the third floor. It will be pretty dark, but there is a light switch on your left at the top of those stairs. Turn the light on and look to the left. Your dad’s picture should be right there.


And, indeed it was. Amazing.

Lt. Colonel Walter Young went on to serve in the United States Army, the Army Air Corps and in 1947 when the Air Force was created and he was a reservist, he switched over to this new branch of the military.


Generally speaking, my father was a very gentle person. Once in a while, something would get under his skin, but not often. I have speculated to many people over the years that I am not certain he could have fired a gun in actual combat. He would much rather ask the enemy to sit down for a nice chat. I never remember hearing him speak poorly of another person.


One of my favorite anecdotes about him occurred on Rt. U.S. 206 just north of Trenton, New Jersey one day when he stopped traffic in both directions to escort a snapping turtle from one side of the road to the other. This was not a brief moment. Turtles do not move quickly, but he got this one across to the other side safely. Traffic resumed after a lengthy delay.


Given a chance, some people would have run that turtle over without a second thought. After all, time is valuable. Not my dad. To him, the life of a snapping turtle was far more important than getting to work on time. I’m not sure what he learned at West Point, but that is who he was and I think that’s a good thing.


On Pearl Harbor Day, I’m proud to reflect on my father and his military service. If you ever get to West Point, go to the cemetery. West Point is where Lt. Colonel Walter Young is remembered with a modest headstone amidst some of our nation’s greatest military heroes. I cannot tell you how proud he was to have graduated from West Point. It truly was a life-changing experience.

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

  • Davis Young

One of the many perks of growing up in Princeton.


I spent what most people refer to as “formative years” growing up in Princeton, New Jersey where Nassau Street runs right down the middle of town – the fabled Princeton University on one side and stores and restaurants on the other.


I wouldn’t want anyone to think of me as a name dropper, but it’s hard to avoid being one when you come from Princeton. Many famous people were either raised there or passed through Princeton ranging from James Madison, Woodrow Wilson, Michelle Obama and Ted Cruz from the world of politics to actors Jimmy Stewart, Ethan Hawke and Christopher Reeves. Honors graduate Brooke Shields once said “Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.” Multiple Supreme Court Justices with Princeton degrees include Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito and Elana Kagen. Athletes? You bet. Heisman Trophy recipient Dick Kazmaier and basketball legend Bill Bradley sharpened their athletic skills there. Lesley Bush, a local girl, scored an Olympic gold medal in diving. Jeff Bezos of Amazon business fame and Ralph Nader who spent his career hounding the business community both earned Princeton sheepskins. And then there was J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, who lived about a mile up the street and around the corner from our house.


Standing first among local residents was Albert Einstein of 112 Mercer Street. Although he generally aspired to having a low profile, he was a familiar figure in town often seen riding a bicycle with his head of long white hair flowing in the breeze. He would do this wearing a brown military style full length coat.


A close growing up friend of mine was Tommy Montgomery who lived just two or three houses down Mercer Street from Einstein. One day, Tommy and I were engaged in a game of croquet when we happened to look up and discover the great man had come through a couple of backyards and was standing in front of us watching the competition. There for what seemed to be the longest time were the three of us – two teenage croquet players and Albert Einstein. It was a pretty serious match and I don’t recall that much was said between us. In retrospect, I think Einstein was somewhat fascinated by the game, especially the angles with which the balls were controlled and the sophisticated strategy we demonstrated. Eventually, he went back to his own house.


None of the Einstein brilliance ever rubbed off on me. But, the amazing and life-changing experience of growing up in Princeton gave me a deep respect for smart people, especially those who have used their God-given brainpower to do something good with their lives. What better example than Albert Einstein.


Sometimes it’s useful to get another person’s perspective. Here is what a well-known former professional athlete and TV analyst had to say about Albert Einstein. “The word ‘genius’ isn’t applicable to football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”


Call him what you want. I prefer to call him Uncle Al. I’m sure I taught him a thing or two about croquet that day in a friend’s backyard. How many people do you know who can say Albert Einstein learned something from them?

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

  • Davis Young

Everything has a silver lining, even a pandemic.


It’s Thanksgiving Week. This year that means lots of calories without loved ones to share them and football without spectators. We all know what to blame for that. It’s the relentless COVID-19.


I set out to see if there was anything positive to harvest for Thanksgiving from our COVID experience. Don’t we all feel better when we can find a bright side? Nobody wants to hang around with negative people. In that spirit, here’s my list of Pandemic Thank Yous this Thanksgiving.


Thank You Pandemic that Karen and I still get along after all these years, which makes what I refer to as house arrest much more palatable than it would otherwise be.


Thank You Pandemic for the opportunity to enjoy numerous socially distanced outdoor Happy Hours with neighbors in the last six months.


Thank You Pandemic for constantly reminding me to wear my mask to protect both others and myself.


Thank You Pandemic that I’m not one of the people who think they have a Constitutional right to expose their fellow citizens by not wearing a mask.


Thank You Pandemic that I haven’t bought into some sort of witchcraft solution to your ugly presence in our lives.


Thank You Pandemic for reminding me that I am not immune to getting sick and that I need to pay attention to eating, drinking and living smart(er) especially since I am ancient and vulnerable.

Thank You Pandemic for giving me the time to clean my garage and my basement storage area several times each.


Thank You Pandemic for helping me save a boatload of money by avoiding expensive indoor restaurants for eight months so far and counting.


Thank You Pandemic for being a constant reminder that America needs to prepare a lot better to be ready for future crises.


Thank You Pandemic for giving my wife the opportunity to make and donate 350 masks to the Cleveland Clinic and for our friends on the street to donate 2,000+ masks.


Thank You Pandemic for inspiring me to do some home video Zumba exercise.


Thank You Pandemic for convincing me rather quickly that outdoor exercise beats indoor Zumba every time.


Thank You Pandemic for reminding me it’s more important to spend time looking for solutions than to blame ordinary Chinese people for something they couldn’t control and never intended.


Thank You Pandemic for spotlighting the importance and selflessness of both front-line health care workers and all those who support them, especially their families.


Thank You Pandemic for reminding us to pay attention to science.


Thank You Pandemic for giving our messed up world a good wake-up call.


To all who have died and to those continuing to fight for their lives, you are not alone. We are thankful for you and know that you will be in our thoughts and memories this Thanksgiving (and always).


And to the Pandemic.... You are cunning and quick, but we are smarter and faster. We will defeat you. And we will learn from this experience. Now, get out of here. That would make us really thankful this holiday season.

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

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