The quote is from Louis L’Amour’s “The Walking Drum.”
‘I have heard of your family name,’ the burly, red-haired ruffian shackled to the oar next to this newest galley slave said, “but what of you?’
From the “enthralling lands of the 12 century”, to July 2, 1863, to today, it’s a good question.
“What of you?”
On July 2, 1863, with no bullets left, troops depleted from 478 to a mere 200, they fixed bayonets and charged down the hill routing the men of the 15th Alabama led by Colonel Oates, taking twice their number in rebel prisoners, thus stymieing the Confederate push around Little Round Top.
Oates, who saw his own brother die in the battle, would later write, “There never were harder fighters than the Twentieth Maine men and their gallant colonel.”
Oates was referring to Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, commander of the 20th Regiment of Infantry, Maine Volunteers that defended Little Round Top, just outside Gettysburg, that awe-full July day.
In reflection Chamberlain said, “We know not the future, and cannot plan for it much. But we can . . . determine and know what manner of men we will be whenever and wherever the hour strikes.”
Still another day of battle followed, and by the end of July 3, some 50,000 men were dead or seriously wounded.
On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln dedicated a new cemetery in Gettysburg, saying, ‘The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here’” (“The Leadership Moment”, pp.127, 140,141).
In the spring of every year, Michael Useem, director of the Warton School’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, takes his class to this hillside near Gettysburg, to reflect on the lessons of leadership.
Now, today, July, 2020, it’s your turn.
“What of you?”