I have lost count of which week of social distancing we’re on at this point. I’ve also lost sight of the big picture at times. Today I remind myself that this day is not just a holiday where we typically gather with friends or family, but it is meant to be a celebration of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”Franklin D. Roosevelt
I did not grow up in this country and my former husband was not in the military, so I spent many years quite removed from what is at the core of so many other American families. Sure, we knew some people who had served a long time ago, but so did my grandfather back in WWI Germany. Not much cause for pride there.
It wasn’t until 2009 when I experienced first-hand what it meant to be part of a military community. While I had been a volunteer ski instructor for children and adults with disabilities here in Minnesota for several years already, this was my first time volunteering at the annual DAV/NDV Winter Sports Clinic in Colorado.
This event brings together about 400 disabled veterans, 200 volunteer ski instructors, many alternate-activities volunteers, team leaders, coaches and caregivers from all over the United States to allow the participants to experience a variety of winter sports and continue the process of recovery surrounded and supported by their peers.
What a life-changing event for everyone involved – participants, volunteers, family members and organizers alike! Everyone’s camaraderie and community, indomitable spirit and teamwork are palpable and simply beyond imagination.
Some participants arrive anxious or depressed, focused on their disabilities and unsure of their abilities. New instructors like me arrive equally anxious and unsure of their ability to teach long days for a whole week at altitude, sometimes teaching folks with very challenging physical and/or emotional circumstances at that.
Then the miracle happens and everyone leaves the mountain elated, with new skills and renewed attitude and perspective, and with a new set of goals in order to be stronger and healthier when we return in 51 weeks.
Due to the coronavirus, this year was the first year I missed the clinic since 2009. It’s safe to say most of us felt cheated to miss out on such a rewarding and – let’s be honest – fun event and we are all looking forward to seeing our friends again in 2021. Our collective indomitable spirit not only conquers the mountain, it shall conquer this too.
So to those of you who have loved someone who made the ultimate sacrifice and those of you who have served or still serve, I celebrate you today. To those clinic participants whose lives have touched mine, I miss you and can’t wait to see you in 2021.
If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to our email updates. We promise not to deluge your inbox but instead occasionally deliver content that we hope you will find helpful and informative.