Tombstones and Face Masks: Life Lessons from Memorial Day, COVID-19 Version

Tombstones and Face Masks: Life Lessons from Memorial Day, COVID-19 Version

This past Memorial Day, I was reminded of a story about a child living through the Battle of Britain.

It’s 1940. The Nazis are intensifying their evening bombing attacks on London, so that each nightfall brings the terrifying anticipation of indiscriminate destruction and sudden death. During this most extraordinary of times, a young boy is asked a quite ordinary question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Rather than answering “A pilot” or “A policeman” or even “A soldier”, the boy instead simply replies, “Alive.”

That incident strikes a chord with me, having just commemorated Memorial Day during a pandemic. Each year at this time when we honor the sacrifice of our fallen warriors, I wonder what we should tell children who are surrounded by the intense images of mortality they see on television—the rows of tombstones, the laying of wreaths, the playing of Taps. But this year that question is even more salient. Before, during, and after Memorial Day, our children have been bombarded with additional reminders of the fragility of life—the omnipresent face mask, the relentless instructions to keep six feet away from another human being, the obligatory announcements of the latest COVID-19 death toll.

In 2020, we recognize not just our military heroes, but another type of hero as well. The heroes fighting the virus are armed not with guns and artillery but medicine and ventilators. And the threat they are fighting is not safely confined—in a child’s mind—to another time or place, but is here now, in our backyards, parks, and playgrounds, affecting our way of life, mocking our usual frivolity at holiday barbeques, shutting down our schools.

It seems to me this must be a bit much for a child.  Between the graves of Memorial Day and the masks of COVID-19, are today’s children silently wondering if they will make it to adulthood alive? And, if so, is there an opportunity for us to calm their fears by focusing their attention away from mortality and toward the positive life lessons these images can teach them?

I believe this is such an opportunity. I believe we can help young children learn to process what they see and hear into positive messages about how to tap into the virtues that are inside of them. That is, I believe we can use the challenges of our time to teach children the traits that each of us needs in order to overcome challenges, defeat adversity, and become heroes ourselves.

What are these virtues? We all know of many, and each of us can teach them in our own way. Here are just a few:

  • I think this is the virtue that leads to all others. If one establishes the daily habit of recognizing what one is thankful for, life’s bountiful opportunities are more likely to shine clearly. Foremost among our many blessings is the protection provided by our heroes. The best way to express our gratitude is to live like them, and to carry on their mission to help assure our future will be a bright one.
  • Resilience. This means never giving up. Whatever challenges come along, our military and medical heroes deal with it. Yes, this comes from training and experience. But resilience also comes from the confidence we have in ourselves, despite moments of failure and despair. Heroes accomplish amazing feats by looking adversity in the eye and overcoming it.
  • But how can we be resilient? One tool we can use is our own ability to adapt—to enhance the skills we need in the circumstances and use our creativity to find new ways to solve new problems. If you never give up—resilience—you will find a way to succeed—adaptability.
  • Heroes risk their lives because they care about others. But most of the time we can help others with little risk to ourselves. Everyone deserves to be treated as a valuable individual. We wear a mask not just to protect ourselves but to protect other people. And we treat the stranger with respect because they have needs and feelings just like us.
  • There is nothing more important than family, friends, and community. Ultimately, our love for each other is what gives these virtues their power and significance. And encourages us to remember our fallen heroes.
  • Optimism and Faith in the Future. If we all try to adhere to these and other virtues, then there is every reason to believe the future is bright—for us, our families and our country. We owe it to our heroes to go forward with the attitude best expressed by Winston Churchill: “For myself I am an optimist—it does not seem to be much use being anything else.”

Of course, this is a very short sample of virtues that our children should learn about. What other virtues would you discuss with a child and how would you teach those virtues?  Would you use examples from your own life, from history? Would you ask the child to think of how they could put each virtue into practice?

We should use the challenges of today and the sacrifices of our fallen heroes to help our children learn important life lessons. And, of course, the very best way to teach our children is by example, to practice these virtues ourselves.

 

Best regards,

  

Bryan E. Kelly, CFP®

Managing Partner

 

Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through investment advisor representatives of Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. The Kelly Group and Cambridge are not affiliated. 48 East Gordon Street, Bel Air, MD 21014

 

Tombstones and Face Masks: Life Lessons from Memorial Day, COVID-19 Version

Today’s Headlines – May 27, 2020

Memorial Day is a well-known American holiday, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season. This year, Memorial Day Weekend was a much more somber holiday as we are embroiled in a different type of war. This war is a health crisis that has taken many more lives than we care to count. As we slowly move forward carefully reopening our country, we do so together, united against one common enemy.  We may have had to forgo rambunctious parades, crowded cookouts, and large family gatherings, but together we still remember.  Personal signs of celebratory patriotism and respect for our local communities in need, took on a new look and were no less heartfelt.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.”  John F. Kennedy

This past weekend, I hope you were able to take a moment and pause in a commemorative way befitting your family.  At The Kelly Group, we proudly displayed the American flag to commemorate those who gave their lives in service to our country. We salute our clients and members of the community that are veterans. Thank you. We are forever grateful for the ultimate sacrifice for the Unites States of America. To those who are fighting this war today, we thank you for your invaluable contribution, renewed hopes, and national aspirations.  Today we praise the men and women who continue to sacrifice for their community and country, with selfless devotion, outstanding courage, and honor. May their sacrifice be a constant reminder of things that matter.  We ask that you visit our website, www.kellygrouponline.com or Facebook Page on a regular basis for updates and articles that may provide additional information and a calming voice.  If you have any questions or concerns, we are here to listen, in fact we welcome your call.

Stay Safe and Healthy, and May God Bless You and Our Community.

Best regards,

Bryan E. Kelly, CFP®

Managing Partner

 

 

 

 

Tombstones and Face Masks: Life Lessons from Memorial Day, COVID-19 Version

Today’s Headlines – May 20, 2020

Ten years ago, for my 40th birthday, I attended Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s annual shareholder meeting. This shows my geeky side and I must admit, I loved every minute!  I was also planning to attend this year for my 50th; however, COVID-19 and social distancing made that impossible.  So instead I “attended” their day-long virtual meeting and typical of Warren Buffett, he provided wisdom and wit that only a man of his age and stature can manage. He did not disappoint. Mr. Buffett emphasized that he was as uncertain about the short term as he is optimistic in the long run, and further commented that Berkshire isn’t itching to make any giant investments yet. However, Mr. Buffett provided optimistic remarks and said, “We’ve faced tougher problems, and the American miracle, the American magic, has always prevailed.” Mr. Buffett spoke of patience and respect for the overall investing process.  Well said.  We need to be more Buffett-like.  But when markets swing as wildly as they have over the past few weeks and months, the urge to act—especially to sell—can be overpowering. To point, this made me think of the following quote:

“All of human unhappiness comes from one single thing: not knowing how to remain at rest in a room.” – Blaise Pascal

At The Kelly Group, we spend a considerable amount of time and energy in coaching clients how to channel that nervous (market) energy, and turn it into a disciplined investment routine. That way, their decisions become driven by a customized investment policy rather than by impulse.  Rebalancing, or automatically adjusting their mix of assets back to predetermined target levels, forces a buy low and sell high strategy instead of selling low and buying high. Part of this process is to simply do nothing at all.  BE Buffett. This may sound odd but believe me it’s true.  We ask that you visit our website, www.kellygrouponline.com or Facebook Page on a regular basis for continued inspiration.  We welcome your feedback and discussions, and if pressed – I am happy to share more of my geeky thoughts on listening to Mr. Buffett.

 

Stay Safe and Healthy, and May God Bless You and Our Community.

 

Best regards,

Bryan E. Kelly, CFP®

Managing Partner

Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC.  Advisory services offered through investment advisor representatives of Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. The Kelly Group and Cambridge are not affiliated.

Tombstones and Face Masks: Life Lessons from Memorial Day, COVID-19 Version

A Conversation on Rebalancing

As a follow up to our recent correspondence regarding the current volatility in the market, I want to let you know that The Kelly Group is taking this opportunity to selectively rebalance client portfolios.

In general, The Kelly Group rebalances the bulk of our clients’ portfolios annually, usually in January of each year including 2020. There are also times when we find it appropriate to rebalance during the year as a result of major market moves, up or down. In light of the recent extensive market volatility, The Kelly Group’s Investment Committee has decided to rebalance has many of our client portfolios. As a result, you may have recently received, or shortly be receiving, trade confirmations reflecting our adjustments.

In determining our rebalancing strategy, we take into account various factors such as: whether the portfolio is in accumulation or distribution mode; tax considerations; and the overall asset allocation shifts.

Let me use this notice as a reminder of the potential benefits of rebalancing.

Rebalancing is valuable for two reasons. First, it helps maintain the original investment weightings in a portfolio. To take a simple example, suppose together we concluded that you should hold 60% of your portfolio in stock funds. Assume that, over the course of the year, those funds decline relative to fixed income. As a result, your stock funds are now 40% of your portfolio. Meanwhile, your bond funds, originally 40% of your portfolio, now constitute 60%. To return your portfolio to the allocations you started with, we sell a portion of your fixed income funds and increase holdings of equity funds. This returns your portfolio to the allocations we originally agreed upon.

Note a second advantage to rebalancing: We have sold investments that have outperformed and bought more of those that underperformed. While at first blush, that action might appear counterintuitive to some–we’re decreasing the “winners” and increasing the “losers”–for long-term investment success, this is exactly what a wise investor should do. Rebalancing helps to reinforce an investment discipline essential to long-term financial success.

When and how often should we rebalance? There is no one magical time of year or frequency. As mentioned, we rebalance once a year, in January. This way, we are avoiding the tendency to “time” the market. But when the market is unusually volatile–either up or down–allocations become misaligned more than usual. This offers an opportunity to take advantage of overreaction, locking in gains of investments that have moved unreasonably high and purchasing investments that have fallen unreasonably low. We have determined that this is such an opportunity.

If you have any questions about your portfolio, please feel free to contact your financial advisor.

Best Regards,

Bryan E. Kelly, CFP®

Managing Partner

Tombstones and Face Masks: Life Lessons from Memorial Day, COVID-19 Version

Today’s Headlines – May 13, 2020

I understand the continued uncertainty facing all of us. We are grappling with an economic and a health care crisis. It’s something none of us have ever faced, and yet – recessions are not new, we have faced them before. One of the recurrent themes I emphasize is …that we act continuously on our plan; we never react to the economy or the markets. Consider the interesting fact that in April the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 recorded their best monthly gains since 1987. It’s an incredible disconnect between the financial economy and the real economy. No one can truly say where the markets might be at the end of the year. There are too many unknown variables. Those who make forecasts are simply offering opinions. Let’s just pause and be still. Read more