Thursday, June 6, 2013

Where There Is Will

I didn't see Greg Campbell get hurt.
I was already caught up in the excitement of the Boston Bruins overtime win over Pittsburgh when the highlights of Campbell's injury were part of the postgame coverage at 1 a.m. Thursday morning.
Campbell had slid forward at the point to block a shot. He took it off the leg and fell in a heap. In the video of the injury, you can hear him scream in agony.
But then Campbell got back up. He couldn't count on a stoppage in play. That wasn't going to happen. In a game in which every mistake or opportunity could lead to the decisive goal, Campbell knew he had no choice but to gut it out. He got back up, tried to play his position, on what was later diagnosed as a broken leg. He even blocked another shot.
As he finished his shift and helped the Bruins kill off the Penguins power play, the Boston fans chanted his name and a wounded Campbell skated off the ice. His season is done.
As amazing as what Campbell did, it doesn't surprise me. Hockey players do that. I know many who would have done the exact same thing.
I recently read a story about my friend Kevin Kaminski. One of the many injuries in his rough and tumble hockey career was taking a slapshot to the side of his face. Two inches higher, it likely would have killed him. Instead, it just demolished that side of his face. When asked about it later, Killer recalled it and said "That one stung a little."
Hockey players can be warriors. They know the price that it takes to succeed in the playoffs. They'll do so willingly. They're playing, competing and sacrificing for something far greater than themselves. It seems very different than any other sports. Current Red Sox players are getting ridiculed because they've missed games because they slept wrong or because their hammy hurts. Campbell broke his leg and kept playing. Now, all of a sudden, Jacoby Ellsbury is well enough to play again, after missing a half dozen games or so to a sore hamstring.
Campbell showed me the true depth of guts and heart and desire. You get hurt. You get back up and fight on.
As I thought about Campbell, I realized the anniversary of Normandy. Talk about having guts and heart.
My Dad wasn't part of the invasion. By a twist of fate, and lack of radio operators at home,  he was held back in the states longer than he preferred. By the time he was sent to Europe, the invasion was over and the war was on its last legs. By the grace of God went he.
Most of what I know of Normandy is through movies and historical documentaries. The mention of it puts me on the beach in Saving Private Ryan and figuring the real thing was hundreds of times more horrifying than that.
I'm not a huge flag waver or a "Support the Troops" kind of person. It isn't that I don't support the troops or believe in the freedom our country offers. All those slogans and flag waving gets a little tiresome amidst their use as propaganda and tools for political causes.
But being awed by Campbell's sacrifice and his display of heart and courage only illuminates such selflessness in the context of Normandy.
I know an injured hockey player and the sacrifices made by brave troops in a time of war can't truly be compared. But the fortitude displayed in both instances is amazing and awe inspiring. And that's my point.It doesn't matter the challenge or the adversity, where there is tremendous will, there's a way to show such heart.
I can't imagine what it was like for Campbell Wednesday night and I can't even fathom what it was like on the beaches of Normandy. I'm not sure I can even fully comprehend how terrifying it was to be there.
But I can appreciate such displays of courage, sacrifice, strength and heart. I can only strive to possess some resemblance of those examples.
I never expect to face such trying examples as that. But I know if I get knocked down or put in a challenging situation, I have proof of how amazing and how strong the heart and will of a human can be.
We should recognize and honor such acts of courage and bravery, whether it is the sacrifices of our soldiers or a hockey player competing and playing as selflessly as Campbell did. It took tremendous heart and guts and a will we all should yearn for.
We should remember these examples and hope to live such heart and selflessness as they did. We learn from the past so as to not repeat the mistakes. We can also learn from the past when heroes live, die and hurt because of their fortitude and determination amidst fear and the unknown.
I know I'm talking hockey and hell here. They're truly separate. But I'm simply looking at both events and marvelling at the true heroic nature involved, where weakness and fear were overpowered by an amazing will, a determination, a heart and a strength.
The daily challenges I face are meager in comparison but can be made to feel so large and overwhelming. But I can be a warrior in my own small way. I can strive to live for something greater than my own gain. Others have shown the amazing power of selflessness, sacrifice and strength. And it simply comes from a determined and undeterred heart and a desire to persevere. With that kind of will, there's always a way.

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