This is completely non-sports related, but I wanted to share.
Ever meet someone and just know, This guy, this guy is a good person.
I admit it doesn't happen a lot with me. Generally I'm skeptical. Some might call it cynical, I call it wise. But there are two men that I know that are truly great people. Not just for what they do and have done, but what they stand for and how they carry themselves.
About a year and a half ago SB introduced me to his Grandfather who was in from Florida. Everyone referred to him as the General. Earlier this spring, SB and I planned a trip to Florida and planned to visit the General; we had to plan our trip around his trip to Iwo Jima. Even then, I'll admit, I was naive on his amount of service and dedication to our country. When in his house in Florida, it wasn't the letters from the President or the ceremony honoring him that he described to us that made me realize it; it was a speech he had saved on his DVR from Pearl Harbor Day that he made at the Florida State Capital Building. There he was, this calm, reserved, man with a great sense of humor who I had known only to show me warmth and compassion, who I knew mostly through stories of giving and kind will to his kin, speaking so eloquently on loving, protecting, serving and honoring this country. I have never known a man to embody and exhibit so many things with such little an effort. Teddy Roosevelt might have walked softly and carried a big stick. General Lawrence Snowden walks humbly and carries his heart. He served in three wars, is highly decorated and has such compassion, honor and love. I felt such love for my country, for service men and women, for public servants, and for my fellow country men in the brief moments when we shared General Snowden's company; these moments have never before existed for me, have never been matched, but I carry them with me daily now. So therefore, in light of this great holiday Memorial Day when we give thanks, I not only wish to thank him, who I now am honored to call Papa Lawrence for his service to our country, but his service to his family, to his fellow man and to me;l his love and honor radiate and I am the better for it.
We drove back from Florida and I had much time to sit and ponder things. Our wonderful trip, being thankful that I am able to take time off from work and spend time with family and loved ones. But I also thought about the video that we watched and the other veterans I knew in my life. My Grandpa Lloyd served. He passed when I was 5, before I was able to learn of his stories. My mind wandered back to an old co-worker and dear friend.
Nick and I worked together in Wisconsin. He likes Notre Dame. And has completely polar opposite political views than I. We are both outspoken. And the week leading up to the USC/ND game we would tease each other. Seemingly we had little in common. He served in the Iraq war. I went to grad school. But, and perhaps it was our love for beer, or perhaps it was our love for no non sense people, we became good friends. As a younger vet, more recently back from war, Nick taught me a lot about what it takes to honor one's country. It was a duty he felt was his, and he never complained nor disliked it; he loved/loves his country and I feel confident in saying that he would do it all again and go back if it were necessary. I can also say that I knew for certain that if I ever needed him, he was there for me. He defended me, despite my liberalness and USC-ness with every breath in him. He taught me, that honor and a willingness to defend things you believed in did not just manifest itself on the battle field. It was a daily way of life. It did not mean the willingness to come to arms, it was the willingness to stand tall. He taught me more than anything that there is pride in standing for ones belief's. You don't need to convince everyone to agree with you; you just stand tall with your convictions.
He also helped me understand what it would be like for a person to serve and to come back. And to be completely honest, there were times when I felt nothing but shame. Shame not necessarily that I lived in a country that had such wonderful men and women who were willing to die for it, but did little for them in return; more so Shame that I didn't do more in return. Myself, and we as a country, owe so much to those who have served. Regardless of your opinions of the war(s), of fighting in general, there is a level of honor and love and dedication that I have learned through these two men that needs to be honored right back; that deserves a country that will ensure that after returning home safely that they exist safely. These are people of pride and honor; no one wants a hand out, but they deserve a system where they feel honored and appreciated for their service, not chastised; they deserve a health care system that ensures their bodies and minds are working correctly for the rest of their lives; they deserve mine and everyone else's respect.
These two men, are two of many. Nick Stewart recently told me that dead men tell no tales. I hope that in my brief meager words that I have done them at least a little justice. I encourage anyone who reads this to look up General Snowden - know of his greatness, and to contribute to your local VA chapter to help vets who have recently returned. They were willing to give up their lives for me, and all I have are words; but they are my words, true from my heart, and I hope they both know that I love them, and will honor and remember and respect them till I die, and I will live my life after the examples which they have set.