Waiting in line to get onto a plane recently the stewardess who was greeting the passengers made it a point to stop any person wearing a military uniform and thank them in a very personal way for all they had done for us in serving in our military. It was a poignant gesture, one not lost on any of us who had to wait a few extra minutes before getting on our way.
The attached Golf World article, “Rewarding True Heroes”, by Roger Schiffman, describes his experience in a similar endeavor as he took part in a very special 12-day golf trip to Ireland with 11 of our soldiers. There is something riveting in the juxtaposition described therein of courageous individuals who have suffered life changing injuries against the rugged and surreal landscapes of Irish links courses like Royal County Down, The European Club, and Waterville Golf Links.
Maybe more interesting is to try to get your head around how much golf, and the opportunity to play golf at such storied venues, has helped to put a semblance of normalcy back into the lives of these wounded veterans. Through the great work of organizations like Jim Estes’s Salute Military Golf Association veterans returning from active military theaters find the opportunity to access professional instruction, playing opportunities, and the equipment aids they need reconnect to a game they love and the therapy it can provide.
At an SMGA Clinic last spring I was watching a young veteran balancing himself on his two prosthetic legs and a crutch struggling to roll putts one-handed with a conventional putter. Noticing his frustration one of the pros grabbed a long putter and said to him “Try this”. Discarding the crutch and anchoring the putter to his body he found his secure balance and a smooth stroke. The ball started running true to the line finding the hole with gratifying regularity. An ear-to-ear grin replaced the tensed cheeks on the vet’s face and it was something beautiful to behold.
Reading these stories of truly courageous individuals determined to take control of their lives is an inspiration to all of us as we consider the challenges that life presents us. We should also be cognizant of the sacrifices these folks have made on our behalf and, as the stewardess on that plane showed us, take the time to thank them for all they have done in protecting the freedoms we enjoy.