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Remembering Pearl Harbor and Joe Goveia

By WILLIAM F. NIXON, Chief Executive Officer, Willwork Global Event Services

(Header image: Aerial view of the Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial; image credit: Hawaii Island Experiences, Pearl Harbor Tours Oahu)

This past September, I paid my respects at a wake for the mother of a childhood friend of mine.

Dorothy “Dot” Gouveia was 93 years old when she died after a short illness.  Ms. Gouveia lived a long life, and a good life.  The former Dot Brewster grew up in Norwell, MA. In 1948, she married Joseph “Joe” Gouveia and moved to his hometown of Easton, MA, where the two made a life together.

The couple brought up six children, one of whom, Jason, was the childhood pal I mentioned.  Jason and I were in the same graduating class from Oliver Ames High School, a public school in Easton. 

Dot and Joe Gouveia had been married 59 years when Mr. Gouveia died in 2007.

I had the good fortune of knowing Mr. and Mrs. Gouveia.  Kind and nice people. 

It must have been in grade school when I first heard that Jason’s dad had been at the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in the American territory of Hawaii on the morning of December 7, 1941 when the Empire of Japan attacked the heart of the U.S. Pacific naval fleet stationed there.

Joe Gouveia was a radio operator on the USS California, a battleship, when the attack commenced at 7:55 (Hawaiian time).

Joseph Goveia, United States Navy

We learned in school that what happened at Pearl Harbor was devastating.  Yet when you are kid growing up in the peace and prosperity of the society in which I lived, it is difficult to even begin to understand the enormity of the death and suffering that resulted from the attack:  2,403 Americans killed, 1,178 Americans wounded.

Among the 2,403 killed were twelve of Joe Gouveia’s fellow radio operators, all of whom were also his friends.

The attack destroyed and temporarily paralyzed a considerable portion of the ships America needed to effectively defend itself in the Pacific.  Offensive capabilities were wiped out. 

But the spirit of Americans and the ability of its industry and agriculture to fight back … and to triumph … were very much intact.

We are not sure whether or not, in the immediate wake of the attack, which was coincident with Japan making successful assaults and invasions throughout a large swatch of the Pacific, if Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto said, “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant.  And filled him with a terrible resolve.”

It is known, though, that in the run-up to and planning for Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto – who fully believed taking on the United States was a mistake, and ultimately would be self-defeating – said to ministers of the Cabinet of Japan: “In the first six to 12 months of war with the United States and Great Britain, I will run wild and win victory after victory.  But, then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success.”

Admiral Yamamoto knew America.  He spent a lot of time in our country during the 1920s. Some of that time was as a student at Harvard University.

Admiral Yamamoto was also prescient.

Seven months after Pearl Harbor, the United States decisively crushed Japan in the Battle of Midway, which took place over two days in the north Pacific Ocean. 

After the Battle of Midway, the U.S. stayed on the offensive in the Pacific theater for the remainder of World War II.

A while back, I read how not long after the war, Japanese youth would visit and tour America. 

I read how when these young people returned to Japan, after experiencing the vastness of this country, its big and powerful and busy manufacturing plants, its vegetable and grain fields stretching to the horizon, its economic opportunity, and the character of its citizens, they would ask of their elders: “What were you thinking?”

What Admiral Yamamoto had learned as a young man while in the United States is what those young Japanese learned.

Bricks at Veterans Memorial Park (Easton, MA) dedicated to the memory of Joe Goveia and the 12 of his fellow radio operators and friends lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor

Much of what they came to know about America is what of Willwork Global Event Services has frequently, in this space, noted, and for which we have said thank you.

And in operating a company that works in cities, towns, villages, and hamlets throughout this great land, we have the good fortune of knowing and benefiting first-hand from American exceptionalism.

Of course, the good and enduring fortune of America – of this republic which is in the process of fulfilling its promise – was founded and protected, and is sustained, by the men and women who served and are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Our republic owes much of itis strength and limitless potential to good and noble people like Joe Goveia who answered the call and stood on a wall defending liberty and a free society.

I think that the fires of Pearl Harbor were never that far removed from the thoughts of Joe Gouveia.

When designing the house in which he and Dot brought up their children, he made sure that the bedrooms of all the kids provided for a short drop to the ground from their bedroom windows, which would secure the children’s safety in the event of a fire.

And, while it is smart for all families to hold fire drills, the Gouveia family held their drills on a far more frequent basis than did other families in town.

It is always wholly right and appropriate that every day we express gratitude for service and sacrifice that guarantees freedom and human rights.

Yet, for sure, we are permitted to consider anniversaries such as that which falls on today as occasion for special and especially intense contemplation on and about those who served, died, suffered, and continue to suffer to keep America free and safe.

May we always remember them.

And may we always strive to live our lives in a way that honors them.

VETERANS DAY 2019 – AND THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF EPIC HUMAN LIBERATION THAT THE SERVICE AND SACRIFICE OF THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE UNITED STATES HELPED ASSURE

“Word to the nation: Guard zealously your right to serve in the Armed Forces, for without them, there will be no other rights to guard.”

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY

(Header image: Ninety-nine members of the United States Armed Forces from 33 countries take the oath of U.S. citizenship at Camp Pendleton, September 17, 2009. Photo is courtesy of the United States Marine Corps.)

Willwork Global Event Services is a leading exhibition services and event management company.

Launched in 1987, Willwork is growing rapidly and works in cities, towns, villages, and hamlets across America.  We are also busy with projects in Brazil and the Pacific Rim.

We are based in the Boston suburb of Easton, MA, and operate offices in major U.S. metropolitan areas.

In this space, Willwork frequently gives thanks to and heralds the sacrifice of those who have served and are serving in the U.S. armed forces.  We honor and celebrate in this space those, whether in the military or not, who have sacrificed and willingly put themselves in harm’s way to advance and achieve noble and virtuous causes. 

Among posts of this nature and substance are a Veterans Day 2016 post, which can be accessed by clicking here, and a Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday post that can be accessed by clicking here.

Every day should be a day to show gratitude to all Americans who have worn and who wear the uniform of the United States military. 

Yet, still, we appreciate and embrace Veterans Day as an event that facilitates, nurtures, and assists a broad and far-reaching societal observance and reflection on the martial service and sacrifice necessary to found and maintain our republic.

Veterans Day 2019 coincides with the 30th anniversary of the physical fall of the Berlin Wall.  (Actually, the fall of the wall commenced on November 9, 1989 – but the historic cascade of euphoria, joy, and adrenaline were still very much in the birth phase on November 11, 1989.)  And we emphasize here the “physical” fall of the wall, because, in truth, as soon as the wall went up, in 1961, continuous and inextinguishable thirst for freedom and liberty, and spirited and passionate words and actions … some on the order of heroic … fomented in a way that assured the eventual destruction of the stone and wire structure that deprived liberty.

The Berlin Wall falls, November 1989 (image credit: U.S. Department of Defense)

As the Berlin Wall collapsed, it all initiated and inspired, across a wide swath of Europe, a freedom revolution and the death knell of repressive governments, and the liberation of tens of millions of people.

Now, of course, the repression under which the people were living had been instituted when, in the immediate wake of the end of World War II, the Soviet Union imposed its rule across the eastern section of the continent.

The Soviet occupation and takeover of this part of the world commenced the Cold War – a stretch of about 20 years of tension during which the democratic U.S. faced off against the communist Soviet Union, with the nations never engaging in one-on-one hot conflict, but coming close.

A major reason that the United States and freedom won the Cold War was the military service, all over the globe, of U.S. men and women, whether or not that service involved hearing a shot fired in anger. 

Those men and women stood on a wall and served … and were willing to give all … to defend liberty.

As do the men and women of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard today.

Of this we, all of us, need to be ever mindful.

Willwork Global Event Services says, “Thank You” to all our veterans!!

Harvest and Agricultural and Autumn Fairs and Festivals … and the Shows and Events Industry … Go Way Back

(This post was updated on November 13, 2019)

Charles Pappas, Senior Writer for Exhibitor Magazine, has won a slew of journalism awards, mostly for his writing about the conventions and meetings industry.

Mr. Pappas is author of the smart, entertaining, engaging, and enlightening book, Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs, and Robot Overlords: How World’s Fairs and Trade Expos Brought You the Future (Lyons Press, 2017).

There is much with which to happily occupy yourself, and much to learn from, in this book.

Among what the reader finds in Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs, and Robot Overlords is how fairs and expos, and shows and expositions, have their origins in agricultural marketing and selling (including the earliest farmers markets).

Consider this excerpt from the introduction to Mr. Pappas’s book:

“For hundreds of years, trade shows were as boring as the livestock, cloth, or herring they displayed on a rickety table or a reeking donkey cart.”

As explained in Chapter 64, titled, Farmegeddon, the broad and all inclusive sweep of the history of tradeshows and expos is largely one in which food and agricultural science played a starring role.

Then, again, the story of humanity is one heavy with the growing and raising of food.

Humans started farming about 12,000 years ago.  And across that stretch – even as farming systems became more effective and productive – the practice had largely been one that required of people to be hands on in lifting, pulling, pushing, and dragging — and commandeering beasts of burden that did the lifting, pulling, pushing, and dragging.

It is only over the past 100 years … which sort of coincides with the later stages of the Industrial Revolution and on through the Information Age and into the Digital Age … that the workforce rapidly, and in big numbers, moved away from agriculture.

During this period, as well, horses, mules, and oxen were relieved considerably of what had been for centuries their farm tasks.

Technology and improved systems made growing fruits and vegetables and raising livestock far less reliant on direct people and animal power.

In 1850, about 64 percent of the U.S. labor force was made up of those working in the farming industry.  A decade later the percentage of the U.S. labor force working on farms was at 54 percent. In 1890, the percentage number was 44. Thirty years later, approximately 28 percent of those working in our nation were employed in the agriculture.

Today, the percentage of working Americans holding a job in farming is between 1.5 and 2 percent. 

In the advent era of world’s fairs – that would be from the mid to late 1800s – their link to the promotion and marketing of the practices and new methods of growing and raising food were strong and far reaching.

Consider this excerpt from the Farmaggedon chapter:

“The very first world’s fair—the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in 1851— offered tangible proof of these advances, with stacked pyramids of meat and champagne worthy of a pharaoh. Surpassing that, the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 saw artist Henry Worrall’s models of the U.S. Capitol for the Kansas and Colorado buildings covered in a skin of apples. Later, for the 1881 International Cotton Exposition, Worrall masterminded a 3,000-square-foot pavilion ‘tastefully ornamented with grass, grains, corn and other farm products” and a diminutive railroad made of cornstalks.’”

Here we are, about 170 years after the inaugural world’s fair, and the kinship between shows and farming is as tight as ever. People have to eat. But what is also true is that in the total comos of all shows and events, those with a focus on agriculture occupy a far smaller percentage of space than in years past.

And we need to be ever mindful that the world population continues to grow, even as the growth rate has declined since 1970. 

How to best feed the planet remains a vitally important issue.

The final chapter of Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs, and Robot Overlords is titled “A Farewell to Farms.”

Featured in the chapter is a recent world’s fair, Expo Milan 2015, with its theme, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”

Keeping top of mind the theme of the Milan expo, we excerpt here from the chapter:

“One of the solutions touted at Expo Milano 2015 was vertical farms, where crops, stacked in rows often several stories high, are grown hydroponically, fed by a recycled water solution. (In one variant, the water solution is misted onto the plants’ roots.) The farms slurp down 70 to 95 percent less water than traditional areas of the same size, and, if placed in cities, can reduce food’s average journey from farm to plate from 1,500 miles or more to a few feet. Even better, most vertical farms rely on no pesticides whatsoever, contrasting sharply with the 5.2 billion pounds of insect repellents used worldwide.”

Fairs and other events that are much smaller in scope than those of the global variety continue to exalt and maintain a tie to farming and agriculture.

And of all times of the year, in the United States, and across much of the globe, it is early autumn … the time of harvest … the runup to Thanksgiving … that is most culturally, emotionally, ceremonially connected to and integrated within the efforts of societies to feed and sustain their people.

Following, and fittingly, Willwork Global Event Services takes a look at and discusses some of the best harvest and fall fairs and festivals in the U.S.

October – the first full month of autumn in our hemisphere – is a month of celebration and festivity aligned with the cultivation and ripening of that planted in the earth.

If we listen and pay attention, October and the fall … and the harvest … teach us about and reacquaint us with the importance of agriculture, and necessity of acting as responsible and caring stewards and custodians of the environment.

There is no fruit or vegetable that is more significant in Western culture, religion, and mythology than the apple.  Surely when you think of the harvest, of bounty brought in from the fields and orchards, the apple ranks with tomatoes, corn, green beans, and pumpkins as the produce that is most fixed our conscience and radar. 

Throughout our republic, come autumn, there are apple fairs and festivals.

One of the oldest and best apple fests is the National Apple Harvest Festival, held annually in Arendtsville, PA (about 10 miles from Gettysburg) over the first two full weekends in October. 

The National Apple Harvest Festival began in 1965.  While the event has always been about apples, even from its start 54 years ago it offered much more, with some of those attractions, including the antique car show, still on the festival schedule today.

“Mr. Apple” at the 2014 National Harvest Fair Festival

In 2019, the event has Native American dances, tractor square dances, a petting zoo, live  bands and … well … we have provided here an excerpt from the event website:

“ … the festival features over 300 arts and crafts vendors, an artisan demonstration area, strolling characters, antique farm equipment displays and of course food! Apples of all shapes, sizes, and forms, baked into just about anything you can imagine from homemade applesauce made fresh during the festival to pancakes, syrup, cider, slushies, guacamole, candy and caramel apples, pizza and much more. Plus, our famous pit beef sandwiches, chicken barbecue, sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes, sweet potato fries will surely delight your senses.”

Portland, Maine is an absolute treasure.  This small coastal city has great food, nightlife, a thriving tech industry, a vibrant artist community … and set all along a beautiful and rustic waterfront.

Twelve years ago, Harvest on the Harbor (HOTH) was created to herald and draw attention to Portland’s excellent and rapidly growing restaurant industry. 

Indeed, within the past decade, Bon Appétit, among the world’s best known and revered food and lifestyle media outlets, conferred on Portland two best-in-class awards and national distinctions: naming the city “America’s Foodiest Small Town 2009” and the “2018 Restaurant City of the Year.”

From its onset and continuing to the present, HOTH, held every October, has maintained its focus and honored the charge of telling the story about dining out in Portland, and recruiting people to give its food and hospitality a try.

For 2019, the three-day (October 17-20) is organized into several events, with each event requiring purchase of a ticket that covers all food, drink, and entertainment.   

Necessary to include in any list of U.S. harvest and autumn fairs and festivals is one that trumpets that particular winter squash, that gourd, which is the signature decoration of the season: the pumpkin.

One is not going to find a better pumpkin party and shindig than the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival which takes place in mid to late October in Laconia, NH.

The New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival is a street festival attended by 40,000.

A sort of figurative and literal keystone of the celebration – the main attraction and fundraiser – is the tower of jack-o-lanterns, which in recent years has been comprised of 20,000 pumpkins and is 34-feet high.   

It is a true community effort, the jack-o-lantern tower project, with people and groups paying $10 to place a pumpkin in the tower. 

Other featured events of the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival are pumpkin carving, pumpkin bowling, Zombie Walk, and the Jumpin’ Jack Car Show.

This pumpkin fest offers plenty of food and a beer garden.

The Oktoberfest festival, we know, is of German origin, with the first held in Munich on October 12, 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig – the future King Ludwig I – to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.  It was a public celebration with horse races as the main draw.   

A year later, an encore Oktoberfest was held in Munich, with horse races still the central attraction.  Added to the gala was an agriculture fair.

Oktoberfest is now something of an international phenomenon.

The original Oktoberfest is still held annually in Munich.  There are no horse races.  But, every third year the Munich Oktoberfest includes the agriculture fair. 

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati – conducted annually in downtown Cincinnati since its start in 1976 – is the largest Oktoberfest festival in America.  Close to 600,000 people attend every year. 

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati honors the strong German legacy of the southwest section of Ohio. 

A view from of the street at the 2018 Oktoberfest Zinzinnati

German food, German music, and German beer are the stars of Zinzinnati, held this year on October 20 and 22.  

We did say German food.  Cincinnati Regional Chamber compiled statistics on food consumption that took place at a recent Oktoberfest Zinzinnati; among the stats:  64,000 sauerkraut balls, 80,500 bratwurst, 702 lbs. of Limburger cheese, 1,875 lbs. of German potato salad, 16,002 strudel, and 400 pickled pigs feet. 

Willwork Global Event Services just had to include an annual event that takes place in Massachusetts – the state where our corporate headquarters is located.  More precisely, the event is held almost at the tip of Cape Cod, which is, admittedly, a bit of a trek – a little more than 90 miles – from Willwork corporate.

The community of Wellfleet on Cape Cod is known for its delicious shellfish, particularly the oysters that are harvested from the ocean beds just off the town’s coast.

Every year, during the third weekend in October, the Saturday/Sunday Wellfleet OysterFest happens in downtown Wellfleet. Twenty thousand people visit Wellfleet on the festival weekend.

Oysters are, appropriately, the star of the event.  Then, again, Wellfleet clams hold positive and popular distinction among food lovers.  Plenty of shellfish … raw and cooked … and prepared in a vast variety of ways, are served.  

Wellfleet oyster farmers at the 2018 Wellfleet OysterFest

The two-day oyster “Shuck-Off” contest is a cornerstone of the fest, with professional shuckers, local fisherman, and chefs competing.

There is music and locally brewed beers and ales.

Bands play and artists show and sell their work.

Enjoy and revel in the season – and the harvest – is the recommendation of Willwork Global Event Services.

To complete this mission, we further recommend that you attend a harvest of fall festival or fair – or any other celebration of this wonderful time of year.  

A Man, a Giant Pumpkin, a River – and a World Record

(Header image: Todd Sandstrum en route to the world record)

Willwork Global Event Services, founded in 1987, is a leading exhibition services and event project management company.

In our social media posts, we like to talk about and point to events, exhibitions, conventions, parties, soirees, shows, and festivals … of all types.

Indeed, here in this space, among the topics we have featured and discussed are the summer solstice, celebrations held for championship professional sports teams, “Blood Moon,”  World’s Columbian Exposition (more commonly called the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair), Halloween and scary-themed expositions and events, world’s top flower shows, and giant and spectacular Christmas trees.

This being the first week of October and early fall, we thought it particularly appropriate to herald an event which is built around and promotes a fruit – a cultivated and domesticated fruit that is member of the winter squash family.

Yes, we are talking about the pumpkin – a native of North America, originating about 7,000 BC, in an area that encompasses present day northeastern Mexico and southern United States.

Getting back to squashes – the pumpkin is also a gourd, which is an ornamental squash, even if pumpkins are also a favorite food source, whereas most ornamental squashes are edible, but intensely bitter.

Willwork Global Event Services has a direct tie to a big-time event involving a pumpkin. 

Actually, we refer to a world record involving a pumpkin – a really big pumpkin – that was established by a native of Easton, MA, the town where is located the Willwork Global Event Services corporate office.

The Easton native is Todd Sandstrum, a gentleman who was also living in Easton when, on September 3, 2016, he set the global mark.

Mr. Sandstrum – a third-generation farmer, agricultural steward and education advocate, and environmentalist – made it into the Guinness World Records when he skippered and paddled a 1,240-lb. pumpkin, carved and fashioned into a boat, eight miles on the Taunton River, a waterway in southeastern Massachusetts.

The Taunton River is 36 miles long, from its origin in the town of Bridgewater, MA to where it meets the Atlantic Ocean in Mount Hope Bay at the border of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Starting in the city of Taunton, the Taunton River is tidal for the final 12 miles of its journey to the ocean.

Success came for Mr. Sandstrum a year after his first pumpkin-paddling world record attempt – also on the Taunton River.  In that effort, he made it about 3.5 miles before shallow water halted his progress.

Yet, that 3.5-mile trek was recognized as a world record by the World Record Academy.  Guinness, though, did not certify the mark because of insufficient documentation.

Todd Sandstrum’s second try for a world best would be thoroughly chronicled, with local media covering the event. 

Mr. Sandstrum set his pumpkin boat in the water in Dighton, MA.

His final destination was Battleship Cove, a maritime museum and war memorial set in Fall River. MA at the intersection of the Taunton River and the Atlantic. 

Approximately four hours and 13 minutes after he set off from Dighton, hundreds were cheering from the shoreline, and news cameras clicked and rolled, as Todd Sandstrum pulled his pumpkin vessel up next to the USS Massachusetts (which is permanently anchored at Battleship Cove) and affixed a kiss to the famed and iconic battleship.

Mission Complete – Todd Sandstrum kisses the USS Massachusetts (image credit: Marc Vasconcellos for the The Enterprise)

One for the record books.

To learn more about Todd Sandstrum’s world record, please click here to be taken to an Enterprise newspaper story, smartly titled, “Good gourd! Easton man paddles pumpkin boat, squashes record,” written by Cody Shepard, with photos by Marc Vasconcellos.

Honoring Virtue, and Remembering Two Gentlemen Who Perished on September 11, 2001

(This post was updated on  September 11, 2019)

Something vital to remember about the attacks of September 11, 2001 is that almost all those who perished, were killed while they were working, or while they were commuting to and from work.

The America that the terrorists hate, and which fuels their murderous impulses and rages, is not the reality of the nation constituted of hardworking people who day after day get up and go to and perform their jobs.

Work is high virtue.

Terrorists don’t consider much those who faithfully hold a job, or who faithfully hold two or three jobs, to earn money for food, a roof over their head, clothes, gas for the car … yes, necessities.  Terrorists don’t understand that, for many, after paying for the necessities there is not much left over for luxury and indulgence.

Lost on the practitioners of evil and hate are the moms and dads whose commitment to working long and hard is one inspired and driven by a fierce devotion to, and providing for, their children.

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services, founded in 1987, is fortunate to day in and day out work across America.  We are fortunate to work in cities, towns, villages, and hamlets throughout our great republic.

Day in and day out we see and benefit from and are inspired with the work ethic and goodness of people.

We see and benefit from those who work for Willwork, some whom were born in the U.S., and some who were born in other countries and are now American citizens – and  all of whom are thankful for the opportunity to work and earn and build a life in a free society.

Oh, for sure, we also see the problems; we deal with the problems.  The United States has problems.  We are imperfect and flawed.  Injustice lives in our land.

We also know that the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth, and that we are ever ascendant toward higher greatness, toward fully realizing … and here we invoke the words of our secular saint Abraham Lincoln … “the last best hope of earth.”

Those of us who work in the tradeshow and events and hospitality industries contribute in a major way to the economy and strength of America.

Willwork remembers, today, on this momentous anniversary, two gentlemen killed on that day, and to whom we have a bit of a communal and cosmic connection.

We remember two workers  – two who did their job well and with fidelity.

Father Francis Grogan, C.S.C., 76, was a passenger on the plane, Flight 175, that crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.  At the time of his death, he was in between jobs, and would soon be leaving his position as director of the Holy Cross Residence in North Dartmouth, MA, to take on a new ministry, that of chaplain.

Father Grogan – known to many as “Father Frank” – was much beloved and known in Easton, the community 25 miles south of Boston where is located the Willwork corporate headquarters. A World War II U.S. Navy veteran, who served as a sonar operator on a destroyer, Father Grogan earned degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Fordham University.

Father Francis Grogan (image credit: WPI)

Father Grogan was ordained in 1955.  Over his long career, he held many chaplain, pastor, and teaching posts, both in the U.S. and abroad.  Immediately after his ordination, Father Grogan became director of admissions and registrar at Stonehill College in Easton; and from 1965 through 1976, he was Assistant Pastor of Holy Cross Church in Easton.

Stonehill College is the alma mater of Willwork president, William F. Nixon Sr.  Willwork maintains an internship program with Stonehill College, and has many Stonehill College grads in its ranks, including Denise Franzen, Administrative Director.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Steve Adams, 51, was at work.  He was working at his job as beverage manager for the Windows on the World restaurant on the 107th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when Flight 11 hit the building.

On September 10, 2001, Mr. Adams and his wife, Jessica Murrow, had celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary.

Steve Adams grew up in Easton.  He graduated from Oliver Ames High School, the public school in Easton where William F. Nixon Sr. built his first career, as a highly successful athletic coach (he was most distinguished as the OAHS Tigers boys’ basketball coach) and history and social studies teacher.  Mr. Nixon coached and taught at OAHS during the the time period Mr. Adams attended the school.

Steve Adams (image credit: The Enterprise)

Mr. Adams lived a bit of bohemian lifestyle for many years, working at several jobs in the hospitality industry.  He earned a bachelor’s degree from Marlboro College in Vermont.  Early in his adult life, he wasn’t that successful professionally or at making money. 

It would be in middle age when Steve Adams found professional success and started earning good money.

In April of 2001, Mr. Adams was hired as beverage manager for Windows on the World.  It was a good job, a well-paying job, and one in which he quickly established himself as effective, reliable, and a deliverer of results.

Father Grogan and Steve Adams represent so much of what makes America good and great … one full of opportunity … one full of promise.   Father Grogan and Steve Adams are surely threads woven into a fabric of American greatness.

Great effort … some of this effort heroic … would ensue in the wake of the devastation of 9/11.

People did their jobs; they did their jobs to respond and heal, to protect and rescue, to comfort and bear witness, to inspire and spread hope, to rebuild and reclaim …and to visit justice on perpetrators of evil.

Members of our armed forces and first responders were out front in the response, with many being heroic in the commission of their jobs.

And, ultimately, it would be no small achievement that America … across all vocations and industries … continued working.  Some sustained merely a stumble and then got back to work.

We continued to build and fortify a keystone of American exceptionalism.

America continued to do its job.

For Labor Day 2018, a Reflection and Treatise on Work – and Curiosities Related to Labor

Labor Day postcard

“I learned the value of hard work by working hard.”

MARGARET MEAD

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services is a leader in exhibition services and event project management.

When we were founded, in 1987, we had one employee, and our office was in the basement of a residence – a house, more specifically.  Our technology and office furniture and equipment consisted of a desk, chair, lamp, paper files, and telephone and telephone answering machine.

Why Willwork is where it is now is because of many factors – primary among them, maintaining focus, a commitment to innovation, superior recruitment that contributes to a team of superior employees, supporting and providing our employees with many resources for professional development, our all-star business partners … and a lot of daring and enthusiasm.

Willwork has also benefited from operating and competing in a free and open and capitalist economy.

But, then, all these factors … all these conditions … will not bring about success if absent is hard work.

It is when you add hard work to the mix that you have something special.

Hard work is sacred – and hard work is high virtue.

Now in our fourth decade in business, Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services is a legacy of hard work.

Across our social media network, Willwork frequently discusses matters pertaining to labor and work.  Then, again, that would make sense.

Please click here to be taken to the post we published for Labor Day 2017, and here to be transported to the post we published for Labor Day 2016.

On October 6 of last year, we published here a post on “Persistence.”   Work is at the core of persistence.

As well, on this blog, there is the post which ran on May 26 of last year, the focus of which is an epic demonstration and execution of work that played a pivotal role in the launch of the United States of America.  Clicking here will take you to that post.

For Labor Day 2018, Willwork, publishes here a reflection on work, on different perspectives on work.

What is the most important work?  It would be tough to argue that the dangerous and life-saving, freedom and liberty protecting work of those who wear the uniform of the U.S. military is not the most important work.  And, within that vocation, those who serve in a combat capacity know a particularly urgent and vital and sacred form of work.

Our first responders – police and firefighters – do among the most important work.  They are frequently called to put their lives on the line.

Doctors and nurses save lives; that is important work.  Teachers prepare, instruct, and inspire those who are the future – yes, that is important work.

Wait, how about parents, and grandparents?  When you a see a successful and well-adjusted and responsible person, there is a good chance … almost a certainty, actually … that she had an upbringing in which a good and caring parent, or parents, whether biological or not … or both … exerted strong influence.

What is hard work?

There are those who estimate that only hard physical labor is hard work.  They have a point, a point that can be supported. For sure, manual labor ranks near the top of  the most noble and admirable work – whether that work is exhausting or only mildly taxing.  Physical labor holds and transmits a special value and worth.

Loggers, stone masons, iron workers, house framers, roofers (and add your own physical laborer) – they know what it is to work.

And let’s not forget that physical labor and sharp reasoning and strategy literally … and figuratively … move the world.  Airline executive Colleen Barrett had it right when she observed, “When it comes to getting things done, we need fewer architects and more bricklayers.”

Yet hard work hard is just not hard physical work.  Hard work is an exercise that involves long hours and intense focus and effort, whether it is writing software code or writing a novel; building a stone wall or building a team; driving a truck or driving a nail; planting and growing plants in a field, or planting and growing ideas and imagination in a mind; planning and coordinating freight logistics, or driving the truck transporting the freight.

On another matter pertaining to hard work … let’s face it … there can most certainly be an element of pomposity and conceit in the declaration that to achieve financial wealth all it takes is hard work, and that the level of hard work one expends is commensurate with one’s net worth.

If that were true, ranking with the world’s richest (money wise) would be all dedicated and good parents and parental figures – and all farmers across the developing world.

What are other exhausting jobs – with exhaustion a mix of physical and mental exhaustion?

It would be tough to argue that the training and performance needed to qualify and become a member of the United States Navy’s Sea, Air and Land Teams (SEALs) does not reside near the top – if not the top – of the most exhausting jobs on earth.  Brutal … absolutely brutal … what is required to become a SEAL … to join one of the most effective and elite fighting forces on earth.

Then, again, even basic training for any of the branches of the U.S. military is a demanding experience.

Elite competitive endurance athletes – whatever the sport … running, rowing, cross-country skiing, cycling, swimming …  are in the running for most exhausting.  We mean, really, your job is to be tired, and frequently to go into oxygen debt.

Martial arts sports, like boxing, karate, kung fu, judo, jiu-jitsu .. and other forms … and mixtures of the forms … are a tough way to make a living.  So too are collision sports, like football and hockey.  Martial arts and collision sports are exhausting, and painful.

What countries are the hardest working?

On September 2, 2016, U.S. News & World Report published a story, “This Labor Day Weekend, a Look at the Hardest-Working Countries: At least 16 other countries clock in more working hours each year than the U.S.”  The story, written by Deirdre McPhillips, cites a study of 38 countries that was produced by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Here is an excerpt from the story:

“Struggling with work-life balance and often opting to pass up vacation plans to spend more time in the office, workers in the U.S. may be surprised to learn that there are a number of other countries in which workers put in more hours. In fact, the average 42.8 work week in Mexico is about a full workday longer than the average U.S. worker’s 34.4 hours work week.”

In 2016, Vin Scully retired as a play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, a job he held for 67 years (when he started with the organization, in 1960, it was the Brooklyn Dodgers).  Mr. Scully is a legendary figure in sports announcing, and the length of his career is amazing.

Of course there is the gentleman who held a job with the same company for 80 years? To read about him, and other long-serving employees, please click here to be transported to the CNN Money story, “Meet the Vin Scullys of the American workplace,” published on September 26, 2016, and written by Ahiza Garcia.

Scariest jobs in the world?  On September 3, 2015, the news and entertainment site ScoopWhoop published an article,  “13 Of The World’s Scariest Jobs That Are Not For The Faint Of Heart.”  Written by Rohit Bhattacharya, the piece is an interesting read.

A note and teaser and spoiler here.  As listed in the article, the scariest job in the world – and among the reasons cited to support the ranking is that the job “makes up a third of all occupational deaths in Alaska” – is Alaskan king crab fisherman.  Coming in at number two on the list is … and this makes total sense … is piloting through a hurricane.

Then there are weird … strange … jobs. Dog surfing instructor, fortune cookie writer, and dog food taster are occupations (at least on a part-time basis) that you will find featured and described in the Business Insider story (published on July 10, 2015), “12 weird jobs you’ll be surprised to know exist,”  by Jacqueline Smith and Steven Benna.

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services believes that America is a nation whose marrow and soul is one that possesses a vibrant work ethic and inextinguishable fire that drives it to toil long and hard to achieve.

We also believe that no country on the planet provides more opportunity for those willing to work long and hard than does the United States of America.

Happy Labor Day to All!!