There are times in our lives when we have an opportunity to see ourselves from a different point of view. I had the opportunity this morning to run at my old high school on the same cross country course I ran hundreds of times before. The course is a 2 mile loop around the entire high school campus. Half of the course is around the student parking lot and the front of campus along State Hwy 22. The second half is behind the football field and along a dirt path through a wooded area. I haven’t run this course in nearly 15 years but as soon as I started I felt like my 16 year old self again.
The first half of the course is the portion I ran for the first 2 years of high school cross country because at that time the second half had not been developed. I ran the total loop twice for a total of 4 miles. These were 4 of the most fun miles I have run in a very long time. As I ran the first loop there was a smile across my face that I couldn’t have contained if I wanted to. I dodged the same holes and jumped the same ditches I had done so many times so long ago. Someone even honked their horn at me during that first lap which made my smile grow even more.
Memories flowed through my mind as though they had happened yesterday. Memories of the “games” we played while waiting for practice to start; Wall ball, air pump football, The Gate (thanks Brandon & Wil). Memories of my old teammates, especially from my freshman year when our cross country team felt more like a family than just a team. We all had our different reasons for running but I believe we all enjoyed each others company, I know I did. We were also pretty good and luckily for us we had some good senior leadership (Charlie & Clay) to not let us slack too much. Besides, Charlie probably would have kicked our ass if we didn’t try our best. I thought of my “partner in crime”, Jennifer, when I was trying to figure out a way onto the track when all the gates were locked. I’m sure if she were there we would have been running on the track in no time. I have fond memories of all of my teammates throughout my high school career. I’m also confident the cross country team at my old high school will continue to do great things as they are in the capable hands of a coach with 2 state championships under her belt.
As I started the second lap my thoughts changed from old running memories to a reflection on the meaning of today, July 4th. I am always humbled when I think of what our founding fathers sacrificed so long ago so that I can do something as simple as going for a morning run. I wonder how many people realize who our founding fathers were at the time they declared independence. For instance, Thomas Jefferson was only 33 years old (for comparison, I will be 32 this year) when he wrote the Declaration of Independence (click on the link for the transcript of the Declaration) and helped create the greatest nation mankind has ever known. These men sacrificed their property, their names, and most importantly their lives to tell the world’s largest and most feared Empire that enough was enough. The subsequent war, the American Revolution, was fought not on some distant battlefield and only heard about when the media decided to acknowledge it, but in their cities and in their homes. They endured war for 8 years amongst their homes so we could live freely today. I want to take a moment to thank them, to thank all the men and women who sacrificed so much for me and my family 235 years ago. Without knowing it, you fought for me and my family. I am sincerely grateful for your sacrifice.
I also want to take a moment to thank those men and women who have served and/or still serving to protect our freedom today. A special thank you to those friends of mine who currently serve in all branches of military, especially Moises, Matt, Nick, Noel, Tommy, Tony, Katie, Nate, David, Dennis, and Larry. You all are an inspiration to me and I am proud of all you. Thanks you so much for what you do to keep my family free and safe. If I forgot anyone please accept my apology and know that the next time I see you I owe you a cold beer or a stiff drink; or both.