Monday, May 31, 2010

The Man at The Wall...

It was a beautiful day!

I thought to myself, that it would be a perfect day for a walk. I would walk to The Mall, and enjoy the sunshine and the near perfect breeze that flew through the air. Washington DC is a beautiful place to be in the spring, and I was going to get out and enjoy the sights.

As I was walking, I saw an old man at the Wall, as he was standing facing his weary, tired image. His arm rose from his side, and it stopped about half way up the column of names, and then it stopped as if by magic. His hand seemed fixated on one point and then without warning, it started to tremble as his lips quivered, and tears slowly rolled down his face.

There stood this man, who was quite tall and rugged looking, and his emotions were simply overpowering him. There was nobody between me and this man and he stood about 15 feet away. His head dropped which buried his chin into his chest and he wept quietly into his jacket.

I felt overwhelmed at this proud man having to be a slave to these terrible thoughts in his head making him weep like this. Clearly, the name to which his hand stopped at brought back a whirlwind of emotion to him in a generation past, in a time where he was surrounded by a Band of Brothers who had been grouped together to protect not just freedom, but a way of life.

Suddenly, I felt very weak and ashamed. Here I was enjoying the ability to enjoy this beautiful day with all the choices that only Freedom can give me, and yet it has cost me nothing. And here in front of me represented the cost of the freedom that I have been granted. -The seemingly endless long list of names written on this wall, and people like this man who revisit it in remembrance of those fallen to protect it.

I got a hold of myself, and started walking towards this man, not knowing what I was going to say, but there I stood in front of him. I don’t know if he felt me there, because his head was still lowered, and his eyes were tightly closed as the last tear had just rolled down his eye. Slowly, he lifted his head up and turned to me as if he knew I was there.

I could see the pain etched in this man’s face as he stared at me in unexpected curiosity.

“Kind Sir…” I said, not knowing how I was going to complete what I wanted to say. -I didn’t know what to say.

I wanted to thank him for answering the call to service before I was born, to defend the freedom someone like me was going to be born into, and never learn to appreciate. I wanted to tell him that I wish I could remove his pain and tell him that his nightmares of hellish conditions and places would revisit him no more. I wish I would’ve been able to tell him that his service made a difference in my life, and every other person, who never thanks him for it.

But, I think he saw it in my eyes when I simply said, “…Thank you for your service, and the cost you have had to bear for it”

I offered my hand to him, and as he paused for a second, a little bewildered, he slowly shook it. I smiled at him for a few seconds, and then my lips pursed which erased my smile, as I fought back the tears of how I felt looking into his eyes. Before I could let him see me cry, I walked away, breeze in my face to clear the tears, feeling proud that I was a free man, and that I had just met a brave man who had given Freedom to me.

Thank you to all the Brave Men and Women who defend us, and our way of life. We will never be able to ever fully thank you for your sacrifice…

Don’t Forget, to Thank a Vet…It really does mean so much

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Broad Street Bullies, The Philadelphia Flyers

It is the most unusual of cities in the United States. -The City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.

Home of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Rocky Balboa, The Philly Cheese steak made famous by popular icons like Pat's and Geno's who specialize in selling them to you.

It's history is entrenched in The Revolutionary War of Independence from the world's then-most powerful nation, Great Britain. It's most famous citizen include the legendary spokesman, inventor, scientist, diplomat, politician, and the first Postmaster General, Benjamin Franklin.

Philly is a renowned Sports Town. So if you think you live in a Sports town greater than Philly, think again. There is not a city around that can boast the fans that all 4 Professional Sports in North America carry in South Philly. The 76'ers of Basketball, The Phillies of Baseball, The Flyers of Hockey and the most beloved Eagles of American Football are as much as a part of the culture in Philly as the rich history you grew up learning in your history books about Philadelphia.

And tough? Please, just the nickname of the Flyers being the Broad Street Bullies will give you an indication of what Philly is like. If you are a talented team coming to Philly, I sure hope that you are mentally tough, because you are about to get abused by their fans. I would think it is the most intimidating place to play if you are the opposition. Why do I say this? -Because Philadelphia is the only place in the world that I know of where they actually throw Snowballs and Boo Santa Claus.

Now that's a tough crowd...

I grew up watching the Broad Street Bullies in the 70's. Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach, Bill Barber, Bernie Parent, and enforcers Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, and Bob "Hound" Kelly. They were legendary. I am almost positive that the movie "Slap Shot" was made by some writer who followed that Flyers team of the mid to late 70's; Winning the Holy Grail of Hockey, The Stanley Cup in back to back years in '74 and '75. This team not only showed that they were the toughest team in the league, but that they were the greatest team in the league as well. Character wins, and these teams had oooodles of it.

But as Father Time has it, nothing is etched in stone. The Flyers went on to many more appearances of The Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose each one, time again. But The Flyer fan base never waivered in supporting their team. In re-building years, the Philly faithful would rather see their team be tough and lose, than be wimpy and win. People ask why is Philadelphia is always a goonish team? The answer is because Philadelphia wouldn't tolerate it any other way. The citizens of Philly own these teams, the players just simply play ON it.

Each day this week, I will post a Flyer story for you until the opening day of The Stanley Cup on Saturday, just to get you in the mood!! Funny, heart warming, and inspirational. There will be all of these to read. Even if you are not a Flyers Fan, I promise you that they will be great stories, that is, if you are interested in the Human Spirit.

So come along with me and hear my stories, and if you like them, pass them on. That's how folk lore gets started!!

-After all, this is The Stanley Cup Playoffs!!

Go Flyers!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Beautiful Girls and Mothers

My favourite movie is not well known. It is called "Beautiful Girls" directed by the late Ted Demme, who also directed the movie, "Blow"

Despite its All-Star cast, it never got much attention. However, it remains my favourite movie of all time. Although I could watch this movie everyday, I reserve watching it only once a year, with my best friend Ryan on the first snowfall of winter.

The movie depicts a young man named Willie coming back to his home town for his high school reunion. He encounters his next door neighbour, a 13 year old girl named Marty (played by Natalie Portman) who says it all about having a mother in your life.

The scene goes like this...

Marty: Is your mom dead?

Willie: Are you a Cop?

Marty: No.

Willie: (hesitates, sighs and answers) yeah… my mom's dead.

Marty: I knew it. Your Dad's kind of a sad guy, your brother's kind of missing that thing; that thing that having a mom gives you... It's a lonely house you have, if you don't mind me saying..."

When I heard this, I was struck by how profound this statement was. Something so intangible like the statement of "missing that thing, that thing having a mom gives you" was so true. -It can only be said about Mothers. You can't explain that sentence to anyone if they don't get it. -You either get it or you don't.

And if you don't get it, well, you just proved my point...