What will your Amateur Radio Legacy be?

What will your Amateur Radio Legacy be?

Recently a local ham passed, one who had put in numerous hours on the Emcomm front.  To be transparent he was not someone I shared much contact with and he was quite clear he didn’t much like me.  So be it, and I don’t want to discuss his foibles, but rather his passing made it painfully obvious the community as a whole assigns little to no value/recognition to his services in Emcomm.

In his obit there is the single mention “He was a member of ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services)…” and nothing else.  No mention of the years of Emcomm service, his call sign or anything else.

His obit links to on-line condolences where none of the other Emcomm team members, leadership nor any other radio amateur left any tribute.  So even among our own ranks what time & effort he spent at Emcomm apparently didn’t matter.

Now it may be the individual (only his church and his insurance agent, signing as his agency, left condolences) or it may be the Emcomm role.  Even in our section emailed newsletter he didn’t receive more than a passing mention of having become an SK.

So even the very leadership he served under for years didn’t break stride to acknowledge the Emcomm contribution.

I would like to think it was less a personality thing (I mean he DID volunteer and serve) than the harsh reality that outside of an actual emergency Emcomm doesn’t matter to many people – I’ve even had members of the public tell me they thing Emcomm folk are “odd.”  Seems some of the public considers Emcomm to be the “crazy Uncle who lives in the attic” sort of misfits.

The Emcomm issue aside, one must ask “do we actually leave any legacy behind us in Amateur Radio?”  Does it matter or is it just an idle pursuit?

On the “Cup Half Full” take on legacy this particular ham may not have left as much of legacy as some, and perhaps much less than the legacy you will personally leave behind you.

What can we leave behind?

Years ago I was told that pure volunteerism should always be for your own personal satisfaction, as when you die your volunteering ends.  Sure sometimes a project or building gets named after a major volunteer, but only in the absence of a major donor being given the honor.  And have any of seen a public building named with an SK’s call sign?  I’ve never heard of the ABxCDE Building!

So if you volunteer, do it for the joy of the service you are providing and realize it is a good deed that covers the immediate needs but provides little for the legacy past your volunteer hours.

What are the things that matter then?

Some examples of durable legacy are:

  • Invention
  • Disciples (not in the religious way though)
  • Creation
  • Incorporation

Invention is a legacy through clever developments which advance the art.  We think of the G5RV Antenna while we don’t usually even know who G5RV was.

Disciples are the legacy of followers – those we inspired – that remain when we are past.  If you have been an active Mentor or Instructor they may number in the dozens or more.  This is the “legacy through people” opportunity.

Creation is perhaps much the same an Inventions, but expands to include the constructors of fine & popular gear.  Martin Jue will leave behind him the MFJ portfolio of products and business, many which were added to MFJ rather than developed there.  Yet somehow Martin and his team have created something more than the simple sum of the parts.

Incorporation is the legacy of organization where the organization has a life of its own.  An example is how Percy Maxim left us the ARRL.

So what sort of Amateur Radio legacy interests you in leaving behind?



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2 thoughts on “What will your Amateur Radio Legacy be?

  1. LarryW2LJ says:

    Does a legacy even matter?

    Our lives all cause ripples. Even this Ham, without a major legacy as you see it, caused you to write this post. So in a way,his life even touched you.

    This fellows Emcomm efforts may have directly saved lives and property – or maybe he trained someone who will someday save someone’s life or property. We may never know; but that wouldn’t diminish his impact.

    To some people, fanfare and accolades are not what it’s all about. Some people really need the limelight, while others are quite content to be in the trenches, slogging it out, getting the job done; and attention is the last thing they need or want.

    In the end, legacies don’t really amount to a hill of beans. It’s what you do with the time you have is what really matters. How treat your fellow man HERE. What you do with your time and talents while you’re alive – that’s what matters.

    73 de Larry W2LJ

    • k9zw says:

      Hi Larry W2LJ

      Perhaps we’re seeing the same thing. I struggle too with the word “Legacy” as being meaningless.

      Even the examples I give in the post about the four classes of Legacy are really the four ways the efforts we make while we’re alive and kicking survive us. That remembrance is action by others in response to how we lived our lives, putting us in alignment again with the good point you bring up.

      All best and 73


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