The Bugler

Bugler Newsletter

Lessons from the Olympics: The Laurel Wreath

With the Winter Olympics going on now in Whistler, Canada, a Bugler account of the victorious laurel wreath is timely. In the U.S. military, the laurel wreath is used on regimental insignia of the Judge Advocate General's Corps or the Signal Corps, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Expert Badge, and the Academic Achievement insignia.

Historically in the Olympic Games, every winner of every color medal wore a circular headpiece of laurel leaves, and on each Olympic medal was a symbolic sprig of laurel. This is the laurel wreath of the Greek god Apollo. Why laurel leaves and why Apollo? They originated with another Pan-Hellenic festival, the Pythian Games, which were created to honor Apollo for slaying a python. [Python metamorphosed into Pythian]. According to Greek mythology, Apollo competed foolishly with Eros, the god of love, thinking he could beat him and his delicate arrows. But Eros shot Apollo with a golden arrow dooming him to fall in love with Daphne, the fair maiden who Eros also doomed to forever turn against love. When she begged to be saved from Apollo's advances, she was turned into a laurel tree. [It's a myth, remember!] From that day forth, Apollo wore a wreath made from the leaves of his beloved.

Despite its odd beginnings, the laurel wreath has been the symbol of excellence since ancient Greece, where the wreath was awarded to great scholars, artists, soldiers, and those athletes who won in competitions such as the Olympic Games and marathons. It came to represent not a lost love but a special achievement, distinction, success, triumph of worldly accomplishment, and heroism. [Male and female winners of the New York City Marathon are still crowned with laurel wreaths.]

The Crown of Laurel: its symbolism
Later, the laurel crowns were worn by conquerors, such as Julius Caesar, who used one to emphasize his importance. Maybe that was the beginning of the elaborate crowns that grace the heads of royalty, though it is thought that the real reason Caesar wore the crown was to cover up his bald spot! [Isn't it odd how some traditions start, yet their beginnings have long since been forgotten?!]

That a laurel wreath was associated with royalty may be the reason it became the trademark for the high-end models of the Mercedes car (named for the daughter of an Austrian businessman and diplomat - another forgotten story.) But we digress.

As a token of peace, the laurel wreath appears on the United Nations flag and several world nation flags, such as Peru and Guatemala.

As a symbol of triumph and honor, a sprig of laurel and laurel branches are common heraldic symbols. As mentioned above, the symbols are used to this day by the U.S. military.

Lessons from the Olympics: Raising the Bar

Every day at the Olympics, records are being broken as the performance "bar" is raised higher and higher. There's a lesson here for all of us, and that is that the best of yesterday is not good enough for today, and the best of today will not be good enough for tomorrow. We must constantly strive to skate and ski faster, jump farther, drive straighter, flip higher, hit the bull's-eye, concentrate, and stay focused. If we want to be a "gold medal" contestant, we must be a "gold medal" performer!

The same is true in business. For Glendale and that means shipping faster, servicing better, going the extra mile, and keeping ahead of the competition. Our goals are high, and we try to meet them daily. Like all athletes, we can't compete in the arena without a back-up system of supporters - those who believe in us even when we stumble, who root for us, applaud us, and help our cheering section grow. So we thank you - our customers. Keep your comments, kudos, and critiques coming! They help us keep our eyes on the ball and our direction toward the goal - exceeding customer expectations and winning that laurel wreath!

Random Acts of Kindness Week

We could all use some acts of kindness! Renew an old friendship. Buy a cuppa' joe for the person behind you at the coffee shop. Pick up donuts for the office staff. Collect small change and donate the proceeds to a local charity, goods for a food bank, books for a day care center, or clothing for a shelter. Mentor a student who needs a friend. Help an elderly or physically-challenged neighbor mow his lawn, weed his garden, or shovel his driveway. Pick up litter in your local park. Remove some graffiti. Smile at every person you meet today. Compliment a stranger. Hold a door open for another person. Transport someone who can't drive. Lend a hand. There are so many things you can do, and you'll feel a lot better when you do!

For more information...

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation:

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