Memorial Day in the U.S. - Honoring Those That Have Given Their All

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This was not just my first real important U.S. holiday, but also the first Memorial Day ever that I got to spend on American ground, overwhelmed by the patriotic spirit. It’s real and I love it. I gotta be dead serious. 

I don’t know what it was but for me, this day came with a very special atmosphere. When driving to the gym in the morning, I saw the flags lined up on Rosecrans Street - one of the main streets here in my neighborhood. 

It was a long weekend, and I had Monday 30th off; a whole day that was dedicated to remembering those that served their country and died by doing so.

I cruised over to the gym around 9.40 am. On the agenda was the Hero Workout ‘Murph’. 

Here’s the story behind - and trust me, when our coach Phil read this out load, all listening carefully, I found myself surrounded by a special atmosphere and great people that love their country and have huge respect for those in the military, serving their country. I couldn’t have been more thankful to be part of this (CrossFit) family. 

LT. Michael P. Murphy (SEAL) was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wings, tasked with finding a key anti-coalition militia commander near Asadabad, Afghanistan. Shortly after inserting into the objective area, the SEALs were spotted by three goat herders who were initially detained and then released. It is believed the goat herders immediately reported the SEALs’ presence to Taliban fighters.

A fierce gun battle ensued on the steep face of the mountain between the SEALs and a much larger enemy force. Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.

Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire. This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy. While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point, he was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Severely wounded, LT. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.

LT. Murphy fought on, allowing one member of his team (Marcus Luttrell) to escape, before he was killed. For his selfless actions, LT. Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 27, 2007.

I literally had tears in my eyes - I wasn’t the only one, as Nadja was about to lose it, as well; she’s married to a Navy SEAL - and chills were running down my spine. 

LT. Murphy is just one example of so many that gave their lives in war, fighting for their country, preserving the freedom and independence of their beloved ones and beyond. I think it’s hard to understand how the majority of Americans think about their country, the military, freedom, unless you are immersing yourself in technically their everyday lives. It’s a mindset you can only then start to really retrace. 

After the WOD - and still capable of smiling. 

We were then all fired up and ready to get our pain sweat on. Music and countdown on - and it was time to chip away ‘Murph’: 

- 1 mile run

- 100 pull-ups

- 200 push-ups

- 300 air squats

- 1 mile run

If you do it RX (the way it’s supposed to be done), you wear a 20 lbs vest and get your reps in, one after another, as listed above. Well, if you don’t think you’ll ever gonna make it through that way, you skip the vest part and break it up. Many of us went for 20 rounds of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups (for sure the hardest part for me), and then 15 air squats. Doesn’t sound bad, huh? After no later than 7 rounds you ask yourself: Will I ever get this done?

The atmosphere was one-of-a-kind, and we all cheered us on, huffing and puffing. Boy, I have huge respect for our guys that really did the whole thing with a vest. The 1 mile run at the end is just…awful. But, we all made it - as a community. 

And every time you think there’s not way you can do one more rep, you think of those who’ve given their all - and then push a little harder. Because, these guys out there didn’t give up. They just can’t. And all too often, they have to pay the price. 

Worn out and happy, we all spent about an hour at the gym, stretched it out afterwards, and went home as the box was closed the rest of the day. 

Memorial Day is a holiday most people here spend with their friends and families, have a BBQ and take it easy. After all, it’s a day of remembrance. 

After a hot shower (boy, that was needed) and some cheesy nachos with guacamole, there was one thing I have been wanting to do and thought that day  would be the perfect for it: visit Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, which happens to be not far from my house. 

It is the second largest military cemetery in the nation, it is not only open to the public but also very beautiful - if this is somehow accurate to say about a cemetery. It includes those Veterans of WW I, WW II, Korea, VietNam and the Gulf wars. Also here are those who fell in the battle of San Pasqual in 1846, as well as victims of the USS Bennington explosion in 1905.

From here, you have some stunning views on the ocean, as well as the bay, and  downtown including the military base. It is, after all, very scenic. 

Justin was kind enough to take me there - he’s an officer - and explain a few things as we were wandering around. 

I was glad I came up here that day. 

I had a wonderful Memorial Day, the first one ever, surrounded by great people and a better understanding of what this day really means. I am thankful to be here and learn about all the - more or less little - things that make this country what it is. Thanks to all my natives who take the time and have the patience to introduce me to all this, and help me understand a lot more. 

This country is certainly growing on me.