I am a Terrible Runner.

It’s true. I am a terrible runner. My speed is less than average and because of my lifelong fight with Asthma, my lungs literally hurt during a run. But on Memorial Day, I will gather with my other Crossfitters and participate in the Murphy WOD (Workout of the Day) in memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, New York, who was killed in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005.

This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he named it “Body Armor”. It consists of two, one-mile runs, one at the beginning, and another the end of a WOD, that encapsulates 100 pullups, 200 pushups, and 300 squats. For the real warriors among us, some of us will also wear a twenty-pound vest, or body armor, or carry a weight on our backs. From the day it was first honored to him, it has been proudly and simply referred to as “Murph” and is one of the hardest workouts we ever do; but think of what Mike gave for us. I will do so this year, as I now have for the last four years, in the bright sunshine or the pouring down rain, along with my fellow athletes, in honor of a focused warrior and a great American, who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is. He did just that. This Memorial Day, we will again remember, and many of us will cry, too, but the tears will be more than just the physical pain and exhaustion, it will be because we remember our people, and our nation, still have so far to go.

We, too, as a parish will tie simple, but beautiful ribbons this Sunday on our Cemetery Gates to honor those who served, like my dad, who is with me in ways I never expected, even as he is now gone from this life. A decorated Veteran; I will grieve again as I remember. (Click Here to get your ribbons to remember and honor.)

St. Francis once said, “Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these, they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.”  This is true of every warrior who died in service to our nation and her people. It certainly was true of Lieutenant Michael Murphy, and my dad, and so many others who served and some who fell in honor.

As we honor Memorial Day again, I pray each of us will take a moment to honor our fallen heroes. Then, let us begin the hard work of restoring our commitment to our patriots who have sacrificed for us, but still live among us. They deserve so much, and certainly at the very least, respect, jobs, healthcare, and thanks for their labor while in uniform. Finally, let us work together to assist the forgotten and the downtrodden, in obtaining meaningful employment, better access to affordable health care, recrimination against discrimination of any kind, the treatment for both mental and physical wounds, and by rejecting the ‘names’ and any other limiting factor that divides us as humans. As Emma Lazarus reminded us with her infamous poetry, The New Colossus, “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.”

It is what Mike, and so many heroes, died for; they did not die for one, or for one type; rather, they died so all might be free…

Blessed Memorial Day, Lieutenant Michael Murphy, we still remember.
 
 

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