Tomorrow is Memorial Day.
And during your day off.....visiting family....grilling burgers....swimming in the pool....lying on the couch watching TV.....take a second to remember why you are doing those things.
People died to give us and keep these freedoms.
My aunt's [my mom's sister] father was killed in World War II. Something called D-Day. When you watch Saving Private Ryan this weekend.....he was one of those poor souls in the opening sequence. My mom's father [my mom was born after WWII so she and her sister have different dads] served in the same war. My father served during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam. Several of his uncles served. One of my good friends was in the first Gulf War. My wife's grandfather was in Korea.
Now, I am the Sportz Assassin....and I try to keep this blog tracked in the sports mode. And I will. But I always feel that we tend to forget holiday meanings. At Christmas, we are always told to "remember what the day is about". Same thing with Thanksgiving or Independence Day. But Memorial Day is tangible. It affects us all. Everyone of us is related to...or is friends with someone related to....a soldier. Many are fortunate enough to return home. Others are not. These people died so we can live on without a hiccup in our daily lives. Honestly, how many of us are willing to do that? We rather gripe about gas prices or NBA officiating or traffic jams or that idiot in front of us at the bank or how lousy our favorite team's GM is than think about putting everything we have on the line to serve our country and it's citizens.
The "Greatest Generation" is growing thin. The soldiers who fought and survived World War II are fading away. If you were 18 when Pearl Harbor happened....you'd be 83 right now. Soon....very soon....there won't be anyone left who fought in that war. There are barely anyone left who fought in World War I. And the veterans of Korea and Vietnam are taking their places as our grandfathers. We don't have much more time to have ol' grandpa or Uncle Bob sit around the porch and tell us all those war stories.
It's up to us to remember.
Again....I run a sports blog here....so I want to tie this in.
Remember guys like Pat Tillman, who quit a million dollar NFL career to serve his country. And no matter what all of the fog around his death is....the fact that he did that in a time where we'd NEVER expect any athlete to do so is quite admirable. It's the reason we cared in the first place.
Remember Bob Kalsu of the Buffalo Bills, who was killed in North Vietnam in 1970 by mortar fire.
Remember all those athletes in World War II. There were 638 NFL players who left the gridiron to take part in the bloodiest war ever. Nineteen of those players were killed. There were at least 3,000 minor league baseball players and over 300 major league players who also fought. At least 50 were killed.
Remember guys like Nile Kinnick. He won the 1939 Heisman Trophy....but is better known as the name on the front of the Iowa Hawkeyes football stadium. He died in a fighter plane crash during training in 1943.
Remember Hobey Baker, who died right as World War I was ending in a fighter crash. Baker was a star hockey player in college. Today, an award in his honor is given in collegiate hockey as well as many other high school awards given for character.
Remember that while not everyone was killed in the war....many were wounded and would later die from complications from those wounds. Or maybe they couldn't live life the way the did before they served.
And remember Ted Williams. No, Williams didn't die in combat. But he was in combat. Imagine that. Imagine if now, during this War on Terror, guys like Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, Dontrelle Willis, Kobe Bryant, Greg Oden, Michael Vick, Jim Thome, Brandon Webb, Shaun Alexander, Antonio Tarver, etc had to stop their sports jobs to go and fight. That would be insane, huh? Well, it used to not be like that.
So, please take a second to remember those who were willing to die....and ultimately did....to protect your way of life.
I know I will.