Veterans of war are an easy target. Everyone loves to say they support the troops. It’s a can’t lose message. I’d argue it’s the lowest common denominator in terms of something most American’s can agree on. The men and women within our armed services do our dirty work. They also do our best work in terms of taking our countries most valued principles and valiantly spread them throughout the world. Insert democracy here.
But do vets really get the respect they deserve? Politicians pull praise like it’s coming out of the back of a clown car like a never ending stream.. Imagine that, politicians and clowns in the same sentence. The stroking is so often exchanged and tapped that it starts to feel like a country song cliché. A thin veil of stunted recognition. Maybe it’s the NFL forcing coaches to wear military looking sweatshirts. Super cool right?!? And we will also make sure that 2% of all sales goes to Wounded Warriors if purchased from NFL.com. Gotta check that box. Maybe it’s our President flying in and out of IRAQ for 28 minutes. I’ve spent more time agonizing over the Whole Foods hot bar than Trump spent with the troops. Check the box my friend, and make sure you take credit, too. Maybe it’s all of our elected representatives deciding that our coast guard can go unpaid while they fight over their preferred type of border security. It’s a wall, no, it’s a barrier, no what we really need are some illegal immigrant drones. No sir, we need to get paid.
Then there are actual bad ass groups that rip that veil off the faceless soldier and ask our vets “what do you need?” The Pat Tillman Foundation is one of those organizations. Pat was one of those “give us your best” type of soldiers that was heavily celebrated by all. He actually checked that box. Patriot, check. And hundreds of thousands of men and women do that every day. Those are the people that the Pat Tillman Foundation continues to support through Pat’s legacy.
I’ve been thinking a ton about veterans this week. First, our San Jose 408k “Race to the Row” is coming up this Sunday. It benefits the aforementioned Tillman Foundation and specifically their military scholar’s program. It is our 8th Annual event this year and we’re closing in on $100,000 donated to the organization. Straight up, we’re proud of that. Pat was from San Jose and in his honor, we’ll have a Memorial Mile on the course. We invite local veterans to line the street and exchange enthusiasm with the runners and walkers. For us it’s about showing the veterans our true appreciation. No more just checking the box.
I’d also like to recognize my family members that have served. First off, my grandpa Pete Armstrong served in the Pacific Theater on an aircraft carrier. He was an airplane mechanic. He could fix anything. I still want to be like him. My other grandfather, Bruce Service earned a Bronze Star in Europe in the Army infantry. This California kid gets himself into the Battle of the Bulge, then kills and captures a bunch of Nazis. I’m pretty sure the whole experience changed him forever. How could it not? His war never ended. Then there is my cousin Stephan Fernandez. We are separated by just a few months in age and grew up in lock step. After high school Steph followed in our grandfather’s footsteps and enlisted in the Army. He rose to Staff Sergeant, a proven leader, serving one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. Last week I visited him in Columbus, GA and he was gracious to share real war stories. He definitely saw some shit, earned his Purple Heart, never wanted to leave his crew and recently honorably rejoined civilian life. Total dedication to his country and his crew, checked that box.
So yes, our vets are an easy target. They’re an easy target because they put themselves in harms way. We too often check the box and thank them in political notations. I’m guilty of this and for years took this service as something that was for others to worry about. Yah, yah, but they get paid, Yah, they signed up for it. World War II was different. Thats why I don’t have to enlist. Was it though? True evil is still around us. As I get older I can see the field a bit clearer. I want to make every thank you count. Make it really mean something. This Sunday we’re just running an 8k for San Jose. Part of that day is about memorializing and raising money to support veterans. Big check, big check mark, look them in the eye, listen, smile, thank them, and mean it. They did.
To learn more and participate in the Memorial Mile please visit: www.run408k.com/memorial-mile
To run or walk in the 8th Annual San Jose 408k Brought to you by Amazon please register at www.run408k.com