2017-03-10 / Chaplain's News

A lesson in vigilance, staying focused on duties

Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center

For years I have stayed up late on Oscar Sunday and watched the Academy Awards on television. It’s hard to believe, but when the first Oscar ceremony was held in the ballroom of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1929, all the awards were handed out in less than fifteen minutes. Times have changed.

Part of the reason I like watching is because of the suspense. Five people, or groups of people, have known for about six weeks that their work was deemed one of the best. But they won’t know if their peers thought it was the best until the announcement is made in front of a packed house at the Dolby Theater and in front of a television audience of around 100 million people. Live.

The suspense is broken when the presenters open a sealed envelope which has just been given to them before they walk on stage. Until the moment the envelope is opened the only people who know who won are two accountants. It’s kind of a top secret job because the accountants have to memorize who the winners are so there isn’t a list with the winners name on it that could get lost and end up in someone’s hands who are not supposed to know. A bodyguard, an off duty LA cop, picks them up on Sunday morning and shadows them all day.

I didn’t know until this year there are actually two envelopes (with the same results, obviously) and the accountant on the side of the stage the presenters are coming from will hand them the envelope. Thus, there are two sets of envelopes. For over eighty years an accounting firm has handed out thousands of envelopes and there was only one goof, which was quickly corrected. That is until last Sunday.

Actors Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were presenting the biggest award of all: Best picture. “La La Land” was expected to win. Beatty opened the envelope and pulled out the card and then he looked really confused. He checked the envelope again and started stammering around. He looked at her and showed her the card and she said “the winner is La La Land”. The audience erupted with cheers.

The problem was “La La Land” wasn’t the winner. They had been given the alternate envelope for the previous award, best actress. That winner was Emma Stone for best actress for “La La Land”. Dunaway saw the title of her movie and announced it as the winner.

More than two minutes of thank-you speeches had already been given when the truth was made known. The real winner was a movie called “Moonlight”. The guy who only a few minutes before thought he won was the person who actually made the announcement. Shock and pandemonium fell over the crowd. The “La La Land” folks displayed grace and class to make room for the real winners, the confused producers of “Moonlight”.

Embarrassing but so what? What does that have to do with us at Fort Gordon? Well, there is a good lesson to be learned.

The accountants had one job that night. Make sure the right envelope gets in the right hands. Even if there was a mistake made the accountants are supposed to run out on stage and correct it immediately. The problem was one of the accountants wasn’t paying attention. He was on social media tweeting a picture of Emma Stone out to his buddies. He had been told specifically not to go on social media while doing his job. The other accountant was not forthright in performing her duties. She knew who the winner was but stood back stage and wringed her hands.

Everyone in the Fort Gordon community also has a job to do. Regardless of what our job is we are expected to perform it. Last Sunday was embarrassing for a handful of people giving out a trophy, but in the profession of arms “sleeping at the job” can cost someone their life.

Regardless if you are an Advanced Individual Training student, a hospital employee, or someone talking about their job to a group of strangers we are all expected to be focused and vigilant. Too much can be at stake if you are not.

Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the spring of life.” Vigilance – that’s a good word for us all.

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