"I wouldn't want to have a metal leg."

I’ve been walking around with a lump in my throat for much of today.  This year Veteran’s Day has had a much more profound impact on me, for a number of reasons.

The first is that my Grandfather, William Farrell whose service in the U.S. Marine Corps I am so proud of, died earlier this year.  At 21 years old he served in WWII and was involved in the invasions of Guadalcanal and Peleliu in the South Pacific.  Unfortunately I never spoke to my grandfather about his service while he was here, but it was clear his time in the Marines made a lasting impact on him throughout the remainder of his life.  Even into his 90’s he was often found reading books about the military.  I feel so fortunate that he was interviewed for a book profiling WWII vets published by the Scott County Historical Society.  Through this book I’ve gotten to learn a little bit about his time serving in the war, and I took at look at the book this morning.  His comments on training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina:

“It was hotter than the devil down there.  I can still remember the sand fleas.  They’d get in your nose, your ears, and if you moved those DI’s (Drill Instructors) would smack you with their swagger sticks.  We had a sergeant and a PFC for drill instructors.  I ran into our little PFC on Guadalcanal later, and he’d had all the shit, blood, and mud he wanted by that time, and that’s what he gave us when we went in.”

My grandfather’s comments on the Invasion of Peleliu:

“If the hill was too steep, they’d send these poor guys up there with flame throwers.  You were a casualty the day they strapped that on your back.”

The second reason Veteran’s Day is touching me more this year is that my son is getting old enough to ask questions about the military.  It started a couple of months ago on September 11th and for the first time I told him about the September 11th terrorist attacks.  It’s really hard to explain things that make no sense in 4 year-old appropriate language.  I’m glad that he’s interested and tries his best to understand, but it can be a bit awkward- though necessary.  So this morning he saw me looking at this memorial slideshow http://thebrigade.thechive.com which started a conversation about the sacrifices that are made by a few to ensure the security of many.

Thirdly, I’m much more conscious of our servicemen and women now that I am a Crossfitter.  There is no other group of people more appreciative of the Armed Forces and more enthusiastic about showing it than Crossfitters. What an amazing thing it is to be a part of this community.    I was so proud to do a hero WOD with the people I train with everyday as well as Crossfitters all over the world, and grateful to be part of a community that values and acknowledges the sacrifices of others.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”  ~William Arthur Ward

Thank you.

Author: Elisabeth Akinwale

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