In Your Own Way
The gym is CLOSED today, in observance of Memorial Day.
I spent four years in a military program for teenagers. Outside of CrossFit, it was one of those things without which my life would be vastly different. I remember lots of shouting, push ups, and drilling. There were endless push ups. Push ups on concrete, on gravel, on burning asphalt. If your eyes strayed at attention, if you were late, if you betrayed a single negative emotion (or any emotion come to think of it), you would be met with severe punishment. We never talked about our Core Values, never waxed poetic on loving our country with every bone and cell in our bodies, and never, ever did anything to dishonor ourselves or the program. It was The Dream at the time to be a SpecOps guy (Navy SEAL or Marine Force Recon,etc.), or at least prepare ourselves for service once we turned eighteen. And this meant preparing for the absolute worst eventualities, through a training program that confounded any expectations for kids still in high school. Some of my most cherished and dreaded memories lie in those years.
I obviously didn’t end up serving, but a shit ton of my closest friends did. Feeling left behind, I would hound them every time they came back from Boot Camp or overseas deployment. They would tell me things that sent shivers up my spine, and there were hints of things they wouldn’t dare revisit again. They do this for us, I thought to myself. They do this for us, and they come back to find things on the news or just everyday behavior that was, in our eyes, disgusting and cowardly. Duty, honor, loyalty, bravery, discipline, getting out of something what you put into it, and working for what you want, were things we never questioned or discussed. It just was. And we couldn’t understand it’s lack in others.
They always considered me one of them. But because I never served, I couldn’t reciprocate the sentiment. How?, I asked them. How do I do it? I’ll never toe the line with you, never see what you see. Tell me, how do I do it? Because they didn’t expect anything in return, n-o-t-h-i-n-g a-t a-l-l, they couldn’t answer.
Please take a moment today, in your own way.
Reflections on Memorial Day by Mackubin T. Owens
Patriotism and it’s Pathologies, Armed and Dangerous