Nick’s Notes: Veterans Day
November 11, 2014
A few weeks ago Duke University men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski used a series of basketball metaphors to criticize the President's strategy to combat ISIS at the Association of the U.S. Army Conference.
Coach K, a West Point Graduate, said the "no boots on the ground" strategy was like playing a game without his best players. He named off a few of his star players that he had coached over the years, Grant Hill, J.J. Redick, and Christian Laettner.
I don't question Krzyzewski's commitment to causeses related to our armed forces, however I worry about the flippant attitude that war and sports metaphors are used interchangeably.
Days like this remind me of my cousin Phillip Johnson Jr., who was killed in Afghanistan in January of 2004. His helicopter was shot down over Fallujah. He's now buried in Arlington National Cemetary.
I wonder about what Phillip was doing that morning before heading out on his mission. I doubt making a flight plan for his UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter was anything like preparing a game plan for North Carolina.
I think about the battles that were fought in Fallujah and Kandhar. I bet they were nothing like the "battles" fought at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
I think about Phillip's last thoughts and the last thoughts of the nine other men who were also killed in the crash. I doubt they were anything like when you know might lose a game in the NCAA tournament.
I think about the void that was cast upon our family after Phillip was killed. I doubt it was anything like the void you have after you've coached your last game for a season.
I think about the tears we shed for Phillip and the tears that have been shed for the thousands of lost fathers and mothers killed overseas. They are not the same tears that are shed after sports events.
I think about the psychological toll that war has taken on the thousands of men and women in our country's conflicts over the years. I think about how they can't leave it all on the court because of the PTSD that haunts them every day of their lives.
On this Veterans Day, remember the real battles. Remember that they are significantly more complex and dangerous than the games we play and watch.