Why Innovation Matters

My two grandfathers have meant a lot to me. I am a lot like one of the two. We argue a lot as a result. Often over who drank more Reed’s Dairy chocolate milk. My grandmother has actually had to buy each of us our own carton. But mostly we enjoy each other’s company and our shared idiosyncrasies.

My other grandfather is the farmer. It was on his farm that I grew up. He was also a pilot, and I spent a lot of my youth in one of his trucks, on one of his tractors, or inside his plane. He was quite a good pilot for the Air Force. He was a finalist for the Thunderbirds, was a test pilot, and flew many missions during Vietnam.

The third highest military decoration (and third highest for valor) is the Silver Star. The highest in both categories is the Congressional Medal of Honor. My grandpa won both—over the course of two days in two separate events (same battle). He is considered among many as one of the great living war heroes. Numerous news articles have been written about him, a handful of short stories, one book and a documentary. He ran for governor of Idaho, has had two parks named after him, one highway, one ship, a room, and an ROTC squadron. And he humble, soft-spoken, and has great personal strength.

And he is losing a battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Celebrities causes have never met as much to me as Michael J Fox’s Foundation. Consequently, I have also have never been quite as irritated at Rush Limbaugh except during the last couple of years. (Limbaugh remarked that Fox was “exaggerating the effects of the disease […] He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act” in an ad for a Democratic candidate; neuroscientist Elaine Richman remarked, “Anyone who knows the disease well would regard his movement as classic severe Parkinson’s disease.”)

We live in a invention-driven world. A century ago, there would be no hope when someone contracted this degenerative disorder. Now, there is hope. For some, it is too late, but the chance for success becomes more and more in reach with every discovery and development.

It’s why we need be an innovation-focused people. Innovation doesn’t just enrich us financially; it connects us as humans and makes the hitherto thought impossible possible.


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