Sunday, July 5, 2015

Pep Talk: "What Needs To Be Done"

Dawn had broken, but little light was available in Vail, Colorado. Birds began their early-morning chirp, seemingly encouraging the sun to keep climbing and appear above the massive and picturesque Gore Range just to the east. Delivery trucks stirred noise and fumes as cherished family and friends slept after a festive night celebrating our nation’s 239th birthday. 

The cranium kept going back to one thing. A statue. A symbol of America at its best. A sentry watching the town’s famous “Covered Bridge.” But also, symbolically watching us, current residents and stewards of the American way. It’s a statue honoring those who served our country in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II. 

For this simple dude, the ten-foot tall soldier, with skis over right shoulder and weapon strapped to upper back, powerfully moves the Missouri marrow. The soldier’s determined look and purposeful march are constant reminders to a comment read recently in the Denver Post. From a veteran still alive – there aren’t many left - from that terrible war: “We just had to do what needed to be done.”

Amen to that, buddy.

Fascination with the 10th began more than 20 years ago. A neighbor had been a member. “Pajama John”, known to water his lawn while still in sleepwear, would speak in reverent tones of service and sacrifice on skis.

The 10th Mountain was inspired by what happened to Soviet troops in November 1939. They were defeated by Finnish troops on skis protecting their homeland. The incident caught global attention and the heart of Charles Minot Dole, founder of the American national ski patrol. He pestered the War Department - now Department of Defense - to form a similar unit in the US Army. We needed troops, like Finland’s, who were experts in fighting during winter and in mountainous terrain. The 10th Mountain Division was born. Dole, who recruited expert skiers to the unit, had a spirit resonating: “I just had to do what needed to be done.”

Another member of the 10th, Pete Seibert, is known as the founder of Vail. The Massachusetts native trained at the Army’s Camp Hale, near the yet-to-be-formed Colorado town. The expert skier served in the division which helped defeat Nazi Germany and, after the conflict, returned to the area and led the charge to create the ski resort he had envisioned. Seibert oozed a “Do what needs to be done” spirit. 

What about us?

Maybe it has to do with family, work or community? It’s what Victory’s A Stronger Cord wellness project envisions. Sure, it starts with a workout, but it’s about better fitness, relationships and communities. ASC’s Knuckleheads are just trying to do what needs to be done in a nation hampered by too many isolated, unfit and stressed folks.

As Americans, let’s never allow our World War II veteran’s spirit of courage, ingenuity and commitment to fade. We owe them that much. Look around, take action and just do what needs to be done.

Let their spirit be your guide. Good luck!

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