31 heroes: 3 days and 1 year later

The heroes

On August 6th, 2011, 31 of America’s bravest warriors gave their lives in defense of our freedom. These men were sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, and friends. Not only do we thank them for their service and sacrifice, but we thank those that love them for the sacrifice they have made as well.

Alexander J Bennett, Sgt.

Darrik C Benson, PO1 SEAL

Brian R Bill, Master Chief SEAL

John W Brown, Tech Sgt., USAF PJ

Christopher G. Campbell, PO1 SEAL

David R Carter, CWO4

Jared W Day, Information Systems Technician PO1

John “Jet Li” Douangdara, Master at Arms 1st Class

Spencer C Duncan, Spc.

John W Faas, CPO SEAL

Patrick D Hamburger, Staff Sgt.

Andrew W Harvell, Staff Sgt., USAF CCT

Kevin A Houston, CPO SEAL

Jonas B Kelsall, Lt CMDR SEAL

Louis “Lou” J Langlais, Master Chief SEAL

Matthew D Mason, CPO SEAL

Steven “Matt” M Mills, CPO SEAL

Brian J Nichols, CWO2

Nicholas H Null, CPO EOD

Jesse D Pittman, PO1 SEAL

Thomas A Ratzlaff, Senior Chief SEAL

Robert J Reeves, CPO SEAL

Heath M Robinson, CPO SEAL

Nicholas P Spehar, PO2 SEAL

Michael J Strange, Cryptologist Technician PO1

Jon “JT” T Tumilson, PO1 SEAL

Aaron C Vaughn, PO1 SEAL

Kraig M Vickers, Senior Chief EOD

Jason R Workman, PO1 SEAL

Daniel L Zerbe, Tech Sgt., USAF PJ

Bart, K-9

The 31 Americans were not the only ones that died as heroes that day. We cannot forget the sacrifice of our Afghan comrades. Seven Afghan commandos and one Afghan interpreter were also killed in action and we cannot look past their sacrifice. They too are heroes and we thank them and honor them and their families.

Around a year ago, perhaps even a year and three days ago, I was perusing the backlogs of Urban Gets Diesel when I stumbled upon Operation Iron Cross. A philanthropic effort to outfit the troops deployed to Afghanistan, it was my first introduction to Crossfit as a community which supported those soldiers leaving home and loved ones to fight for our country and our freedoms.  I was deeply moved. In my world, Jane Fondas seemed to compromise the population. On the interwebs I had found a new world to discover; a world where people honored their heroes.

The numbers

And my life continued in its strange-but-logical meanderings until the Crossfit world became my own (yay cheers hurrahs hoorays!!!!). While Paleo took numbers out of my food, Crossfit introduced numbers into my exercise.  As a runner who just ran, ran, ran, (for joy, to escape, to be free) I had not touched numbers in sport since highschool water polo games.  (And those were really small numbers.  We were a pretty bad team: not too many goals, despite our awesome coach.)

Crossfit had different kinds of numbers: 21, 15, 9; 5, 5, 5, 5; 10 down to 1….these were comforting numbers in attractive patterns, numbers of completion and numbers of accomplishment.  They weren’t numbers to fear, like calories or pounds; they weren’t numbers to scorn, like times or points.  They were just numbers, and I was just completing them.  And in that completion I could inject every effort, every anger, every despair, every fear, every confusion, every dream. When I’m Crossfitting, I feel alive.  Things are simple, things make sense, and life is as beautiful as the numbers I’m counting.

The workout

Last Saturday, the numbers we counted were the heroes who died and the date marking their ultimate sacrifice.  31 minutes, 8 thrusters, 6 rope climbs, 11 box jumps, and the 400m sandbag run  (relieving “excruciating” with “awful”).  We had partners, and we had coaches, and it sucked.  I wanted it to suck; I hate that they died, I hate those stupid Jane Fondas, I hate that I fail to live my best at every moment when they no longer have life, and when all that hate is flung into truckloads of suck, the hate and the suck make love and have a baby called “fun.”

So, while life was sucking (literally, my life depended on sucking in air) and anyone could rightfully call me a hater, I was having a bang-up ball of a time.  My fondest moments:

  1. James sharing his coffee with me before we started and giving me a sweaty hug after we finished
  2. Chriss demonstrating my horrid rope-pull technique, convincing me that I have an excellent back-up career as a bad stripper
  3. Brent yelling at me to look up, looking down, and promptly slapping the box with both of my hands instead of both of my feet
  4. Alex’s fist-bump
  5. Emily telling me “you’re not tall” (this struck me as insanely funny, and I promptly dropped my bar because I choked on my spit because I started laughing when I was trying to breathe in for my next thruster)
  6. Finally seeing Aby in action as a blue-shirt-in-training woot woot!!!!
  7. Warming up with everybody outside, knowing that I was surrounded by pretty cool cats.

The sacrifice

Thank you.


2 thoughts on “31 heroes: 3 days and 1 year later

    • Thank you so much; my gym is an extension of my home and through them I am blessed to be able to honor our military and their sacrifice. Merry Christmas!

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