The St. Louis Cardinals are a first class organization. Yesterday our Redbirds followed a time honored tradition of heading to the White House to be recognized by the President of the United States. This is an extremely important part of the continuing celebration of our World Championship. I am proud of this organization on many levels for the way they gutted out a championship, take care of their players, recognize their fans, and work hard to represent our community and Cardinal Nation in a positive manner. They could have easily accomplished representing us by attending the ceremony yesterday and humbly accepting the praise that was heaped upon them. The Cardinals took it a step further and stopped by Walter Reed to not only visit our wounded warriors, but to honor them.
The Cardinals completed a whirlwind trip to our nations capital yesterday. The most important stop was not at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The most important stop whether the players realized it at the time or not, was at Walter Reed. Walter Reed Army Medical Center is the largest military treatment center in the United States. Many of our wounded soldiers and veterans are treated here. This facility sees some of the worst injuries our engagement in military action all over the world creates. The Cardinals did their best to lift the spirits of some of the patients at Walter Reed in Bethesda Maryland (recently moved from the D.C. area). By all accounts they succeeded. The Redbirds got to see first hand what sacrifices many of these men and women have made.
I had always considered myself to be fairly patriotic. That has changed more for the positive in the last year or so. There are several factors that have contributed to that. One of which is that I am employed by the Federal Government and have an opportunity to contribute to a mission on a daily basis. I have had several friends over the years that were in one branch of the service or another. I have always appreciated what they sacrificed for our country. I am extremely fortunate to work with a number of veterans in my current position. I don’t think I ever truly understood exactly what they gave up or what kind of passion (not just pride) they have for their country. I have the distinct pleasure of working with a Marine who proves this to me on a daily basis. His stories and actions evoke a sense of pride and honor in himself and those around him. His immediate brotherhood with other Marines and teasing of the other “inferior” branches is something I watch with a sense of wonder and is often accompanied by a laugh or my shaken head. The sacrifices made by these soldiers may pale in comparison only to the sacrifices their families made and make on a daily basis. The sacrifices made by military families are inconceivable to almost all of those who have never experienced it. The opportunity that the Cardinals had yesterday to be a bright spot in the lives of these soldiers will make an impact they won’t soon (or shouldn’t) forget. For a few minutes they provided a respite from the daily grind of the recovery process.
The Cardinals comeback story that President Obama referred to multiple times in his speech meshes well with the mission of Walter Reed. Our wounded warriors come there to start a comeback of their own. While the Cardinals comeback journey and celebration was winding down there, the injured soldiers journey is just beginning. The Cardinals visit no doubt helped lift the spirits of the soldiers who are currently patients there. From press releases and the news reports the impact may have been greater on the players than on the wounded soldiers. I think it is great that they understand just how lucky they are to make the obscene amounts of money they make and to honor those who are fighting or have fought for their ability to continue to do so. I would hope that the minor setbacks that may come their way through the 2012 campaign will be easily put into perspective after a trip like this. Thanks for giving us something to be proud of fellas!
Learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project here