Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Veteran’s Day And Coach Cat

When I was a high school senior my football coach became my friend after the season had ended. Only 10 or 12 years my senior, Cat was still single and for the next 4 or 5 years we spent quite a bit of my at home time together. There are quite a few articles in the Veteran’s Day papers this morning, some of them about the difficulties encountered by our servicemen and women when they return from deployment; that’s gotten me to thinking about Coach Cat.

My friend Chris, Coach Cat, and I were having a couple (dozen) beers one summer night when out of nowhere Cat had a rather scary “flashback” to the jungles of Viet Nam. Turns out as a young 2Lt his squad got cut off from support and he was on his own, leading his men out of the jungle. I remember him sobbing that night, choking out “I can’t believe what I had to do, what I did to get us out.” Stunned, Chris and I gently steered him to bed at a buddy’s house and then we drove home in silence.

For after all, what can you say? What can someone like me, never a minute “in country”, say to someone at a time like that? Indeed, even in a non-crisis moment, how does one respond, how does one express understanding and gratitude to one who has done what needed to be done “there”? Papers this morning are awash with stories and commentaries on a nation’s citizens not at war. Of empty, meaningless gestures and expressions of “thanks” and “appreciation” and “support”. Is this true? Are we who are here, so safe and so far behind the line, are we that shallow and insincere?

I confess that I just do not know the answer to that question. Perhaps neither I nor anyone else ever will. Here’s what I think is different now, though, from those days of my youth spent drinking with a friend who’d done his duty and returned to face both his countrymen and his demons–now I think about this generation’s Coach Cats every day, and I think about how to express my understanding, my empathy, and my gratitude every day. I hope that I am not unique. I hope that the columnists are wrong.

CrossFitters will mark the day with a Hero WOD, “Murph”. We will express our gratitude and our respect in our own, special way, just as we did with “White” earlier. We will endeavor to remember EVERY day, not just on “Hero” days, though we will do so with a little more intensity, more conscious intent, with “Murph.”

In the end today is just a Friday off work for Federal employees if you think about it. When we are a country with men and women ON the line, Veteran’s Day is every day of the year.

I gotta find Cat’s phone number.


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