Turning point in history

  • Published
  • By Chap. (Lt. Col.) Randall E. Kitchens
  • 21st Space Wing chaplain
On June 6, 1944, D-Day, or Operation Overlord, commenced and proved to be a turning point in the history of World War II and the Nazi occupation of Europe. This single day, filled with multiple decisions, led to a change in the battle rhythm of the war and the ultimate defeat of the Nazi forces. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of the U.S. Forces, was faced with huge decisions as a storm delayed the original June 5 invasion.

When the weather report showed an improvement in the weather conditions and the battle planning reports were favorable, General Eisenhower ordered the execution of Operation Overlord despite the predictions of heavy battle casualties. Multiple decisions and reports were integrated together for one big decision that became a turning point in history.

Our nation continues to be at war. In the area of responsibility, many daily decisions are compiled to form the main decision that will directly impact the war efforts. Some of the major decisions involve whether to cut concessions--like Pizza Hut or similar vendors--in the war zone which would potentially reduce the number of convoys transporting supplies and currency that place our troops at risk but would likely lower morale, how many support personnel to cut so more "trigger pullers" can be added to the manning pool, or the best distribution of forces across the AOR to fully execute the mission. It is the collection and compilation of these daily decisions that paint a bigger picture guiding that one big decision which can be a turning point in history.

In our work sections, we make daily decisions that significantly affect higher level decisions regarding the execution of our mission. When the decision picture is painted from all the data collected, the results can directly impact how we do our jobs from that point forward. Accurate and sound information collected, compiled, reviewed and studied then guides the decision maker to the best answer to the greater question. We have a stake in the big decisions by the information we share daily through our leadership and chain of command. If we withhold information, avoid issues, or revamp data, we could directly impact the big decision resulting in nuclear supplies being mishandled or mission failure. Wise counsel is essential when making that big decision which comes from the daily information.

In our personal lives, we also make daily decisions. Our daily decisions affect the larger decisions resulting in the big decisions that touch, change and shape our lives. Our personal core values, ethics, and philosophy inform and guide our decisions whether it is the small daily decisions or the really big life decisions.

How can a daily decision influence our life decisions? Decisions regarding finances, social activities, dating, time management, and even spirituality build the foundation for the huge life decisions we make. It is often helpful to seek wise counsel when making decisions to validate our thought and decision-making processes. Someone asked me, "How did I get into all this mess in my life?" After reviewing their journey and decision-making process, it was clearly evident that the small daily decisions they made based on flawed core values resulted in a poor life decision. The lack of wise counsel added to this poor life decision which could have been avoided. The poor life decision had consequences which included a criminal justice action, judicial punishment, a broken relationship, economic crisis, and unemployment with a small window of hope for future employment in their area of training. This became their turning point in history without a favorable ending.

Whether we are making decisions in our work section or within our personal lives, there are consequences for our decisions. As we look back on life, we will find many life-changing moments occurred that perhaps we did not realize at the time. Hindsight has taught us that many of those lighter moments and circumstances helped us learn some very important lessons. Therefore, we would do well to practice developing an instinct for those situations that occur unexpectedly. Those are the moments when the right decision could change our life forever. Sometimes they are big decisions, but some may be so small that they are soon forgotten.

The importance of making good decisions cannot be underestimated. At the same time, we must not become paranoid. Some decisions that we thought were small at the time were not so small. Had we known what we know now, we would have given more attention to our decision as to which path we were to follow. We must take time to think carefully through our decisions and then move on with confidence.

If we are to be prepared for the big decisions in life, we must learn from every opportunity and experience that comes our way. We have to come to some strong conclusions based on all the facts. Making good decisions based on sound core values, seeking wise counsel in our problem-solving processes, and recognizing the direct influence our daily decisions have on the larger decisions can prepare us for the one major decision that could be the turning point in history.