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MECHANICSBURG… Ever since I was a young boy, one sporting event held on an annual basis has always had my rapt attention. The Army-Navy football game was must-see TV every December. I was introduced to it by my father, a Korean War Army Veteran, and that should leave no doubt about which side we were cheering for. It was never lost on me though that before the game started and after it ended, we were all on the same side, the side of our Country, The United States of America. As a wide eyed little boy I was just into football itself and the aura of choosing a side and sticking with them win or lose. That’s the lesson that sports teaches us in some ways. We can’t be on the winning team every time out, but the team, the spirit of the team, that’s bigger than everything. To be a part of an endeavor like that had great significance and impact. It required heart and soul, it required sacrificing for the unknown and for each other. There were things to be learned from winning…. And from losing too.
Years would pass by, my dad and I would watch many of these games together, and then the time came when I would leave the nest but found myself back there quite frequently on autumn Saturdays, especially if it meant there was an Army-Navy tilt on that day. And if I was away, far enough away that we couldn’t watch together, there was always a pre-game phone call chatting about the game and the possible outcome of it. Many times there was a simmering batch of Illinois chili going on the stove top with some oyster crackers warming in the oven. Hot dogs were grilled and these were afternoons with unforgettable memories. We saw some great games, but getting to watch them together was better than any game outcome. We would usually be joined by one or more family canines who would nap through these games, occasionally raising their heads when someone would get excited about a play or a score. It was nothing short of priceless.
Last Saturday I would watch my 5th Army-Navy Classic without my dad. After a few final years of declining health he left us in early 2015. It was his time and he would suffer no longer. That was a gift. I would watch the game on my own but with a picture of my dad propped up next to the big screen. An American flag we received upon his passing is wrapped in the well known military tri-fold, and sits in a glass case above my china cabinet overlooking the living room. In that same cabinet is a letter of commendation awarded upon his death to my Grandfather and signed by President Lyndon Johnson for his Army service in World War One. My dad’s brothers, my uncles would serve too. One on the tail end of WWII and the other in between that and Korea. My cousins rightfully have their memorabilia in their possession.
I myself did not serve in the Armed Forces, but for some reason I can’t explain still have my draft card from 1972. The Southeast Asian conflict was still on, but my parents encouraged me to go to college and obtain the deferment for doing so. As that was winding down I likely wouldn’t have been called anyway. But based upon what my father must have been involved in and/or witnessed, he wasn’t too keen about me participating. He came from a small farm town of 500, a
place that was a quiet, peaceful Methodist encampment at one time. He went to school, played basketball and went to church. Then his government sent him 6600 miles from home and he ended up seeing and participating in god knows what, I mean, war shows you the violent depravity of the human race in many ways, and then he survived and came home, most assuredly mentally scarred from the experience.
He absolutely never talked much about it when I was growing up, not much after that either. I would find out about the brutality of the winters there and of him breaking down when speaking to my mom and aunt about the taking of a life of an enemy combatant. He spoke of harboring and feeding what little food they could spare to little Korean war orphan children. I think the whole experience burdened him for the remainder of his life…
On Saturday I’m watching the pre-game festivities and right before kickoff President Donald J Trump appears. He didn’t attend the game in 2017, but did in 2018 and now this year. He came into the stadium to applause. Not a rousing ovation, but some cheers. My mood changed abruptly. When I thought back to the disrespect and outright insults he made to at least two different Gold Star Families over the last 3 plus years I became enraged. I was wondering aloud now how such an incorrigible person, disrespecting the memories of at least two American Servicemen, who gave their lives for this country in the line of duty, and thus denigrating their loved ones as well, I wondered how a fellow service member could applaud for this person. Are their memories that short?
If it had been my call, he would not have been allowed into the stadium without making amends and apologizing to those families first. And if he didn’t? I’d have no problem telling him to turn around and leave, you aren’t welcome here amongst the deceased’s fellow soldiers. And if the Military Brass and young cadets in the stadium had any scruples, they would feel the same as I did. Of course, this would never have happened with a real President in the first place, so I must consider the source. Trump is incapable of shame, so there’s that to deal with, and he obviously has never been corrected in his life and is too old and impervious to change. It wasn’t as enjoyable an afternoon as I had hoped for, and the Army Black Knights came out on the short end, 31-7, arghhhhhhh. PEACE
THE MINNESOTA WILD are within striking distance of a Wild Card playoff position and are nearing the end of their epic early season road game dominated schedule. They will come out of it much better than I had anticipated…
WILD DATA; THE ATHLETIC, 17th, trending for 91 pts w/a 51% chance at the playoffs, 1% chance for a Cup. THE SAGARIN, 20th on a 16-18 record, 2-8 vs top ten, 6-12 vs top 16 with a #1 ranked difficulty of schedule. NHL STANDINGS; 5th in the Central, 34GP, 16-13-5
record for 37 pts. 105/GF, 112/GA, -7 diff. 9-1-3 @H, 7-12-2 @A. 1-1 in SO, 7-2-1 in L10 w/a streak of 1L. 9th in the West, 3rd in the Wild Card, 2 qualify. 16th/GF/105, 28th/GA/112. 17th/PP/18%, 24th/PK/77.8%, 13th in PIMs @ 276. OVER & OUT!