Eastern Wake: Opinion

Column: Women get things done

By Johnny Whitfield

Johnny Whitfield
Johnny Whitfield ehyman@newsobserver.com

I have learned over the years that men can be talkers. But women are doers.

It’s impossible to count the number of times projects taken on, events executed and milestones marked by women who didn’t want to spend hours chatting about what to do. They just rolled up their sleeves, did what needed to be done and moved on to the next project.

I’ve seen Baccalaureate services in which the women planned and prepare the menu, decorated the church arranged the music and shepharded the graduates into their seats. I’ve seen civic clubs paralyzed over what to do to benefit their communities until one of the female members stepped up and told them what to do. Then, by golly, it got done.

Those thoughts were driven home a couple times over the last week as we celebrated Veterans Day.

On Nov. 6, just a few days before the holiday she loved, Garner resident Faye Gardner passed away. Gardner was as invested in Garner’s community life as much as any one person could be.

Her crowning achievement, in my opinion, is the Veterans Memorial that stands in Lake Benson Park. You can take all the statues and monuments in Washington D.C. and I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more poignant tribute to veterans than the one Garner has.

Gardner would be quick to point out that she did not accomplish that project on her own, a fact I’m willing to concede. But Gardner certainly was at the front of the line when it came to advocating for that memorial.

I met her on Memorial Day, during the first public service they held in front of that memorial and as she scurried around taking care of details, she looked like she was having fun. I know it must have been a proud moment for her to see the fruit of her labor.

In Knightdale last Sunday, I listened to retired Army veteran Ann Capucilla talk about her 32-year army experience. She spent most of that time as a drill sergeant and I found myself trying to see this diminutive woman cracking the whip with a bunch of raw recruits.

She told wonderful stories – about why she joined the Army, how she managed as a woman leading men and as an Army wife whose husband was as hard-core military as she was. As it turns out, I found myself wishing she’d tell us a few more stories before she sat down. I truly can’t say that about most speakers at events such as these.

Capucilla was an engaging speaker with lots of lessons to be learned for anyone willing to listen. The lesson that stuck with me the most? She told the crowd that they should never feel like they are being trite when they thank a veteran for their service. The thanks mean something. Even today for a woman who served in wartime 70 years ago.

At 96, Capucilla’s part of what we term the Greatest Generation – the group of veterans who served during World War II. Her life has been about getting things done and she’s done a lot.

So I hope you took a moment last week to thank a veteran. I hope you looked upon a monument or a memorial somewhere during the Veterans Day holiday and reflected upon the reality of what we ask our military service members – both men and women – to do in the name of our safety.

It’s a heart-stopping, mind-numbing thing to think about.

If you didn’t do that, you don’t have to wait until the next military-day observance to remember them and thank them.

Here’s betting that women – doers that they are – will be more likely to take me up on that suggestion than men. Sorry guys, but the ladies outshine us pretty significantly when it comes to getting things done.