Every year in November, right around the time when our first quarter ends, we all experience the federal holiday of ‘Veterans Day.’ To most people, this holiday simply signifies a day off from school/work or a nice, 3-day weekend. Others associate Veterans Day with shopping, as retailers offer and heavily advertise their Veteran’s Day weekend sale events to the general public (other retailers actually provide discounts and free meals to Veterans, kudos to them!!!). Unfortunately, it is my opinion that most people don’t associate Veterans Day with the one thing the holiday was meant to be all about: VETERANS!!! (those who have volunteered and served in our our nation’s armed services: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, & Coast Guard).
There are many ways to honor our nation’s Veterans, and my mission this week is to lead you in a variety of experiences that will hopefully change your perception of Veterans Day and to educate and motivate you to honor veterans this year and beyond. We’ll start with the easiest (and very likely the most genuine and well-received way) to honor a Vet: by thanking them for their service! Here’s how it works: Do you know somebody that currently serves in the military, or know somebody that served in the military in the past? Awesome – now go up to them and look them in the eye, or give them a call, and say the following: “I’d like to thank you for serving our country and I want to wish you a happy Veterans Day.” That’s it – so easy, even a caveman could do it! Give it a try – I bet it will feel awesome for both you and the person you are thanking 🙂
Since many of our nation’s Veterans are still on active duty and deployed to combat operations overseas, writing a letter to a deployed service-member is another great way to honor our nation’s heroes. The letter doesn’t have to say much, but generally it should include some background information on yourself/your school, it should thank the veteran for their service, it could contain some sort of inspiration or motivation (a story, a quote, or maybe a poem?), and you could even ask some appropriate questions in the event that the Veteran wants to write back. So, for Part 2 of your Veterans Day assignment/project, we will all be writing a letter to a Veteran who is currently deployed in a combat zone with the US Army (name of unit and location of deployment are both classified due to the type of “special” unit we will be writing to…) to thank them for their service and to wish them a Happy Veterans Day. While there is no guarantee we will each get written responses back from our recipients, I’m almost positive we’ll hear back from the unit in some capacity down the road!
Part 3 of our mission to honor our Vets this Veterans Day is by partaking in something that has been a part of the CrossFit community since the early 2000’s: Hero WOD’s (aka Hero Workouts). Hero WOD’s are known as the most brutal workouts in CrossFit, and rightfully so: They are each designed to honor, and are named after, an actual fallen hero (typically somebody in the military who lost their life in combat or a law-enforcement officer/firefighter who lost their life in the line of duty). The pain, sweat, and fatigue (and sometimes tears and blood) that often results from these workouts is to serve as a reality check and as a reminder of how easy our lives really are when we have our basic needs met and when we compare our lives to those of fallen hero’s and their families. There will be no quitting; there will be no turning back – even if it takes you the entire period.
The Hero WOD I’ve selected and scaled for our Veteran’s Day workout is actually one that most CrossFit boxes use for their Memorial Day WOD, but is one that works well for us now since we have learned all of the necessary movements/exercises it requires (and, I will sadly have none of you for CrossFit P.E. next semester!). The workout, called ‘Murph,’ is in memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. The full workout (before it got its name) used to be LT Murphy’s favorite CrossFit workout as Navy SEAL, and he would call the workout ‘Body Armor’ since he would always complete the entire WOD while wearing a 20lb body armor vest (HOOAH!!!). To learn more about LT Murphy and all the amazing things he accomplished, just click on his photo below. You can also read his Medal of Honor citation here. For those of you that love to check out the blog in anticipation of what tomorrow’s WOD will be, simply look below the picture.
The full version of ‘Murph,’ as well as some tips/strategies for how to break the workout up, can be found here. The version that we will be completing in class (every athlete will be completing this workout on their own, at the same time) is called ‘Mini-Murph,’ which is exactly half of the actual workout:
HERO WOD: “Mini-Murph” aka “Body Armor”*
[50 Pull-Ups + 100 Push-Ups + 150 Squats]**
*Wearing of a backpack during the WOD (to simulate a 20lb body armor vest) is optional
**Pull-Ups/Push-Ups/Squats can be broken-up into any order and into any # / size of sets