While waiting for a flight at the airport my friend and I noticed five young men, all wearing prosthesis on both legs, and they were wearing jackets with USA Hockey written on them. At this same time the Olympics were going on in Sochi and the USA/Russia hockey game was being televised. We were all watching the game and from their comments it was evident they were very knowledgeable about hockey.
When we were called to board the aircraft I was fortunate enough to be seated beside one of the young men. We greeted each other and being a curious person, I asked about the jackets they were wearing. He said they were on the Sledge Hockey team and had been training at the Olympic Center for the past month. They were on their way to North Carolina for more practice and were then going traveling to Sochi to participate in the ParaOlympics.
My next question was if he had been in the military and his answer was “yes”. His face broke into the biggest, brightest smile when I thanked him for fighting for our country. Such a small gesture brought this beautiful smile. He proceeded to show and explain the different apparatus the team uses when playing a game. As the conversation ended, he took a nap and I read my book. Upon his awakening I asked for the names of the young men he was traveling with and I told him we would be watching for them on TV.
As I deplaned, I thanked him again for his service to our country and with a thumbs up said “Go USA”. Once again I received his beautiful smile. I will never forget those young men and Josh certainly left a part of himself in my heart.
Those young man on the plane reminded me yet again of the boundless capacity of human beings to triumph over devastating events. Josh represented America wearing his military uniform and now represents us wearing his hockey uniform. I later found out he had served in the Marine Corps and couldn’t help thinking about their saying, “improvise, adapt and overcome.” What an amazing story of service and devotion to country and what a wonderful example of how to “stay in the fight” for the rest of us.