Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day

So, this morning we rolled out of bed at 4 am to do an abbreviated core workout, and then do a 90 minute bike workout. This was a scheduled recovery week, so we had three consecutive rest days this week – woo hoo! We should, by all rights, be completely rested up and just rarin' to get back at it.

Yeah . . . not exactly.

Time off seems to merely create the desire for more time off . . . funny how that goes.

Anyway, I was able to suck it up and get going knowing that today is Friday, and even better than that, it is the Friday before a holiday weekend. It doesn't get much better than that.

Like many people (I'd wager), I didn't give any thought to the origins of the upcoming holiday – I was (and am) just grateful for an extra day away from the office.

But by sheer random happenstance, the movie we had from NetFlix to keep our minds distracted this morning was Taking Chance.

In April 2004, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC, came across the name of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, a young Marine who had been killed by hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Strobl, a Desert Storm veteran with 17 years of military service, requested that he be assigned for military escort duty to accompany Chance's remains to his family in Dubois, Wyo.Witnessing the spontaneous outpouring of support and respect for the fallen Marine - from the groundskeepers he passed along the road to the cargo handlers at the airport - Strobl was moved to capture the experience in his personal journal.

His first-person account, which began as an official trip report, gives an insight into the military's policy of providing a uniformed escort for all casualties. The story became an Internet phenomenon when it was widely circulated throughout the military community and eventually reached the mainstream media.

'Taking Chance' chronicles one of the silent, virtually unseen journeys that takes place every day across the country, bearing witness to the fallen and all those who, literally and figuratively, carry them home. A uniquely non-political film about the war in Iraq, the film pays tribute to all of the men and women who have given their lives in military service as well as their families.

It is tough to do interval workouts at the best of times – that is the whole point. You go as hard as you can for a specific period of time, then recover for a short time, then go again – over and over.

Let me just advise you right now not to combine interval workouts with weepy movies. Maximum heart rate efforts, combined with sobbing, is a recipe for disaster. Let this be my public service message to y'all!

But seriously, watching the movie humbled and shamed me. Memorial Day is not about the "beginning of summer" or just another reason for a family barbecue.

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.

Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day.

Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."

So, as you enjoy your holiday on Monday, take a moment and remember those who have served our country. Whether they were "ready" or not . . .

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