July 3, 2014
By Wallace Henley
Last June 6, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion that accelerated the Allies toward victory in the Second World War.
I have taken groups of business leaders to Normandy several times since 1995. I never go there without thinking of the desperate situation in which the British were mired just four years earlier, in 1940, up the map from Normandy at a place called Dunkirk.
I still remember an elderly Englishman I saw on my first Normandy trip. We stood in the military museum in Arromanches, on the upper Normandy coast of France. There, a half-century earlier, the British had built and floated across the English Channel mighty caissons to create a false port.
Despite the years, the old gentleman could remember every step he had taken. He pointed to a model, and his voice rose as he showed a relative where he had stood at what point.
I knew I was in the presence of a Normandy man. He may well have been at Dunkirk, in 1940, when the British had been forced to withdraw under Nazi pressure. But when he returned, he came back with a different worldview.
Leaders must be Normandy people, and it is important to contrast the differences between the Normandy and Dunkirk* worldview and priorities: