At this time of year when independent tire dealers and most other business people are busy honing their business plans for the coming year, it's easy to push the war fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan into the background.
After all, there are other, more immediate issues that demand attention, aren't there? Things like developing sales forecasts, reviewing expansion plans, creating marketing programs and ordering the right numbers and types of tires needed for the coming year.
Toss in the holidays and the struggles that go along with everyday life, and one can easily lose sight of battles taking place thousands of miles away in places that we can only read about in the newspaper or see on the nightly news.
Whether or not you agree with the war in Iraq, for instance, the reality is that nearly 150,000 U.S. service men and women-our family members-are serving there in harm's way, routing out insurgents and working to spread democracy.
We should not forget them or the thousands more American soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and other countries around the world. They're making tremendous personal sacrifices on our behalf.
Some of these service men and women are from our own community-the tire industry.
Soldiers like Staff Sgt. Joe Warminski, project manager at Flynn's Tire Co. in Mercer, Pa., who was featured in the Dec. 20 issue of Tire Business.
Instead of working on new construction, additions and remodeling at the tire dealership's 20 locations, Staff Sgt. Warminski is serving a 12- to possibly 18-month tour of duty in Iraq with the 350th Psychological Operations Co., a U.S. Army unit charged with capturing terrorists.
It's dangerous work that involves raiding suspected insurgent hideouts.
Staff Sgt. Warminski, 40, is married to Tania, vice president of Flynn's Tire, and is the father of 9-year-old Aubri.
Such separations no doubt are difficult for all families in this situation. But they're also hard on the businesses where these employees worked. They must cope with reduced staffing and the displacement of valued co-workers.
Staff Sgt. Warminski is one of several members of the tire industry called into the military service who will be featured in stories in Tire Business.
We owe these service men and women a huge amount of gratitude for their sacrifices on our behalf, and we salute their families and places of employment, too, for the efforts they've made to carry on as best they can.
As we head into 2005, let's all take time to remember those in our industry who are serving in the armed services. They help put into perspective concepts like independence-a value independent tire dealers cherish.