9 – 22 MAY Training Week; Sacrifice and the American Public

The past two weeks have gone well – 52 miles last week and just shy of 50 this week. Last Saturday I did a 15 mile run through some really tough headwinds at a 7 minute/mile pace. I’m hopeful that I can do a 20 miler this coming Sunday with the local run club, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen with our baby (Grace Victoria) being due in exactly one week (29 May!). We’re excited and ready for her to breathe oxygen with the rest of humanity…Rachel (my wife) is feeling pretty ready to go. That said, I’ll be sure to post a picture when it all happens. And with a 50 miler coming in 3 months you can be sure that training won’t stop, no matter what the decrease in sleep brings!
The Washington Post ran a story back in early March about Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly (the older marine pictured at left). Tom Cocchiarella tagged it at one point, and I sort of left it, but then read it about a week ago and it was so stirring that I almost cried in the library. It was very, very difficult to read, because I know the sentiment all too well. Lt. Gen. Kelly and his two sons have served 11 combat tours in the last 8 years. Even considering that marine tours are generally shorter (7 months on, 7 months off) – this is an amazing thought. 11 goodbyes.

But what created the lump in my throat was that Lt. Gen. Kelly recently lost one of those sons (he was about my age) in Afghanistan. And a family friend from recovery makes it into the story – who is a brother to my wife’s sister’s boyfriend (wow, that was tough to connect correctly).

Four days after his loss, Lt. Gen. Kelly gave a speech to the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). He touched on two subjects that, I think, cut to the heart of the uniformed military’s struggle with recent sacrifice. First, less than 1% of American citizens wear a uniform, and even fewer are on active duty. We are not a draft force anymore, we recycle our soldiers into and out of combat as opposed to the “once in, once out” model.

Second, the military is becoming a family business. Mine is not unlike Kelly’s: my younger brother is in the Army Reserve (two yearlong deployments, same as me), and my youngest brother is currently deciding between the Air Force and the Coast Guard. These two realities make the force more insular, more segmented, and clustered. These are not necessarily negative – but easily can slip into cancerous negativity. The guardians of society will always be a little different due to their self-preference for the profession of arms (even if it’s economically motivated) – but must always feel included and a part of the American society. Because when those that voluntarily defend the republic feel as though their sacrifice is not honored (or even cared for), we’ll have systemic problems that will be difficult to repair.

Which is why I run, compete for, write, and support the Wounded Warrior Project – because I know that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines deserve support for the immense burden they’ve shouldered on our behalf. I hope you feel the same way.

Author: ML Cavanaugh

Unequal parts strategist, assistant professor, wordsmith, runner, wine-o, reader, philosopher of firepower, and hopeless lover of three ladies named Rachel, Grace, and Georgie.

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