To our Brave Servicemen and Women,
I sit here on a lazy Sunday afternoon, enjoying the middle of my 3-day weekend, and I wonder if I can ever truly appreciate how much our fighting men and women sacrifice everyday.
Can I ever understand how the Mother or Wife feels when they get the word that their loved one truly gave all?
Will I ever know how it feels for the soldier to look at the face of another human being just before firing the shots that will take his life?
How could this life that I lead ever amount to anything when compared to the life of those in our armed forces?
They seem like such abstract thoughts until last Friday. Twice a week, a group of co-workers and I take to a field in a local park to play flag football. On Friday, a young man asked to play with us. His name was Mike, and he told us that this was his final week before reporting to the Naval Academy. I played beside him for only 45 minutes, but I find myself remembering his face throughout this weekend. He represented a face, a voice, and a soul to the images that come across the TV, or the names that are printed in the paper; Iraq or Afghanistan, Air force or Marines, Corporal or Private, the lives of these men and women like Mike are put in harm’s way so that guys like me can have the freedom to better our lives and the lives of our families. No other sacrifice can be greater.
But the paths of the NFL and Memorial Day never cross because the holiday falls during the midst of the offseason, so those of us that follow the sport will never be able to attend an NFL game with a Memorial Day tribute. Based on the elaborate tributes that I’ve seen from the other sports, especially NASCAR, it would be great to take part in such a celebration.
So, the closest thing that I could come up with for an NFL celebration is to write a modest thank-you via this article. The first of these go to the family of the late Pat Tillman. Tillman played safety in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals before quitting to serve his country as an Army Ranger. While serving in Afghanistan, Tillman was killed in the line of duty. Some think of the athletes in the NFL as heroes, but Tillman proved just what a true hero is made of.
Next, a thank you to all of the current members of the armed forces serving at home and abroad, as well as the soldiers from our allies standing by our side. I can’t stress enough just how much I appreciate everything that you do for us. This thank you goes out to all of the families of those soldiers as well, I pray for the safe return of your loved ones every day.
And finally, to those that have served our nation in the past, and especially those that have given their lives in defense of our freedoms, I dedicate this article to you. I could never hope to repay you for what you’ve done, but I hope that this gives you some sort of gratification for those that you are defending.
A personal thank you goes out to some of my family and friends that have served; my father and grandfather, Jack, Gordon, Uncle Bob, Doug, Nick, Shawn, Mat, and the rest of the veterans that I know, thank you.
Mark Olsen writes frequently for Seahawks.NET. Feel free to send him feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.