Finding Your Passion

Remarks from the President | January-February 2018

Happy New Year! It is now 2018, and so that means we have only 29 months until SAME’s Centennial Celebration kickoff at the 2020 JETC in Washington, D.C. Before I discuss the excitement that this coming year holds, I want to thank everyone for a truly inspiring 2017.

We made terrific progress toward the realization of our 2020 Vision, with Posts as the centerpiece. We brought people together, discussed and solved tough challenges, and built lasting, trusting relationships. At the national level, supporting Posts was the top priority while our national events continued to grow, both in attendance and in impact. A special thanks to all our Post leaders, the National Office team and the Board of Direction for your leadership and tireless dedication to moving our Society forward. And a final thanks and challenge to our Fellows and Young Members: the present and the future of SAME. I appreciate what you have done and we will be relying on you heavily in our “Run to 2020 and Beyond”!

I know that 2018 will be another banner year for many reasons, but topping the list are unmatched value and gaining momentum.


We continue to grow the value we offer for being active in SAME. Whether you are a Sustaining Member company, a military or civilian government member, a college student, a high schooler who attended one of our STEM Camps, or even an attendee of one of our events, there is always value for you.

We made terrific progress toward the realization of our 2020 Vision, with Posts as the centerpiece. We brought people together, discussed and solved tough challenges, and built lasting, trusting relationships.

Many aspects of our Society draw people from every discipline and every level of our profession. Continuing your education to sustain professional certification and licensure; expanding your awareness of other technical fields; making new connections and forging lasting relationships; building understanding between government (at all levels), the military, the private sector, and academia to maximize delivery of infrastructure needs: these are what we offer and why anyone can find value in SAME. We may not all be American; we may not all be military; and we may not all be engineers: but we are all members, and we can all make a difference.

Our character is evident especially in our most active members. At our November Board of Direction meeting at the SAME Small Business Conference in Pittsburgh, we rolled up our sleeves to develop our “Run to 2020 Plan.” At the end of the day, we toasted our accomplishments—with the video assistance of one of our longest-tenured members, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam veteran and this year’s Golden Eagle Award recipient for contributions to the engineering profession, Col. Ed Gibson, F.SAME, USA (Ret.)—and celebrated the rewarding work that lies ahead. In that moment, I realized something special about our membership. Whether at the Post or national level, our most dedicated members enjoy “doing” rather than “talking,” creating the conditions that bring great value to our Society.

These members measure their success in the success they enable in others. Hundreds of volunteer leaders do so much to enable their Posts, and by extension, their local partners and members, to flourish. Their passion creates the environment that leads to impact.

It is in that context I want to honor the memory of one of our most dedicated members, Jim Hagan, F.SAME, who passed away suddenly late last year while headed home from an SAME event. Jim was one of our most reliable volunteers who made a real difference at every level for decades, most recently as Chair of the Resilience Committee. We will honor Jim at JETC in Kansas City, where his wife, Sandy, and daughter, Kristen, will receive the Society’s Gold Medal on his behalf. Jim could not have given as much as he did without their support.


I know that sounds a bit Buzz Lightyear, but the image helps me elaborate on my main point for 2018. The main objective of our “Run to 2020 and Beyond” is to get everyone contributing to our collective vision by 2020.

The details of the plan were approved by the Executive Committee in December and are being communicated in various forms. Suffice to say, the plan has something for everyone. I call it, Find Your Passion. What gets you excited about our Society and how can you actively participate? What does SAME do, day in and day out, that you want to remembered for? How can you step up and really make a difference? Think about it. What will your legacy be?

Now is the time to find your part in our plan and give whatever time you can to that task. When 2020 arrives, you will see the fruits of your labor and the part that you played in making SAME’s vision a reality. Just as importantly, you will have been part of the Society’s historic transition from our first 100 years of service into our second century. It will be worth it.

As SAME charter member General of the Army Douglas MacArthur wrote in 1956 upon learning he had been bestowed honorary membership:

“I have been a member of this Society since its inception. Its span of years has seen the most remarkable rate of development of civilization the world has ever witnessed. This accomplishment has synchronized with some of the most acute perils the human race has ever known and overcome. In both categories the engineer has distinguished himself and his profession. Not only in what he has done but in what he has prevented from being done, he has established himself as on the basic pillars of modern society. I have belonged to many distinguished groups but none in which I have a greater sense of honor than in the Society of American Military Engineers.”

SBC 2017 with Engineering Chiefs


My other two points remain just as important once you Find Your Passion. Have Fun means enjoying the people with whom we are serving. Events and awards will come and go, but the impact we have on each other is lasting. So enjoy every moment you have on your SAME time and do your part to ensure that others do the same. Go Big means that if you are going to volunteer, then volunteer. Simply put, volunteers need to hold each other accountable for delivering. Imagine where we would be if literally millions of Americans had never volunteered, even sacrificed their lives.

That does not mean your commitment has to be all or nothing. Go Big means that if you can only give 30 minutes a month, then make those 30 minutes count. Take pride in the time you have to contribute, regardless of how much or how little it is. It all adds up and makes us a better Society.


My heartfelt thanks to every one of you for a remarkable 2017 and for the truly wonderful impact you are having on our profession and the future leaders of our nation. Because of dedicated volunteers and our Society’s drive towards a common goal, we are making a big difference.

As we launch into 2018 and our Run to 2020 and Beyond, “Find Your Passion,” “Go Big,” and “Have Fun.” At SAME, we are in this together—just as we have been for 98 years.

[Article first published in the January-February 2018 issue of The Military Engineer.]