General Comments: It's Groundhog Day!

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Bedke
  • Air Force Flight Test Center commander
Today is Groundhog Day. It is not a federal holiday; it is not a family day; and no one gets off work. Sorry. But still, having a day named after you is quite a feat -- even if you are just a woodchuck -- a.k.a. groundhog.

German immigrants brought us the tradition of looking to an animal as a weather predictor -- the emergence of a creature that hibernated symbolized the imminent arrival of spring. In the United States, the groundhog is supposed to awaken on Feb. 2 and come up out of his burrow. If he sees his shadow, he will return to the burrow for six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, he remains outside and starts his year, because he knows that spring has arrived early. The "official" American groundhog, "Phil," is kept in Punxsutawney, Penn. In the true American spirit of assuring success, his keepers actually pull him out of his den and announce a predetermined forecast.

"Groundhog Day" has also become a reference to an unpleasant situation that continually repeats itself. After this week, many of you are probably feeling a bit like Bill Murray did in the film of the same name. In the 1993 comedy, his character found himself repeating the same day over and over. If you're someone who pays really close attention in a movie, he repeats his day 33 times. We haven't "exercised" 33 times, but your weariness may make you feel like you're trapped in a seemingly endless "time loop" preparing for the ORI.

So, what's my message? Murray's character couldn't, in a single day, correct all of his mistakes, but he did gradually improve with each do-over. He also learned to do all kinds of new things and eventually woke up on Feb. 3. Our version of "Groundhog Day" won't be over until March 13. But, you will wake up, and I am betting that most of you will have accomplished tasks that you couldn't begin to grasp when we first started ORI preparation.

"Phil" has nothing on us. Spring always arrives on or near March 21, whether he decides to return to his den or remain above ground. We can predetermine a forecast too -- the ORI is coming, ready or not. I know you'll be ready, and I know you'll do great!