The Most Valuable Player List
This Sunday the Nation will be transfixed with Super Sunday Super Bowl #50. Much of the Nation will be collected around the television and for 60 minutes of playing time and an almost equal amount of commercials and halftime, we will revel in the physical grace and athleticism of less than a hundred of our greatest physical specimens. At the conclusion, one of those players will be awarded the title of Most Valuable Player. We will all applaud, comment, finish the snacks and drinks and get on with the rest of our lives. But that will ignore our true Most Valuable Players, those that wear a uniform and perform truly mortally hazardous tasks on our behalf in places not bounded by lines and rules.
They are of several Services but from every place we call home. But they are not home. They are on some cold enervating dirt bare hilltop trying to hold dear that which we told them was important. They operate every aspect of our military machinery and location we claim to be-ship, plane or ground. They don’t have a name known to us all as those we honor this Sunday but they are intimately familiar to the very small group we would title combat companions. He or she is not known by many but is recognized by all. They are the citizens that voluntarily gave up their home and nachos and amusing commercials and the thrill of watching the ultimate athleticism to be part of something greater than themselves and to pay back in some small measure what we all enjoy and take for granted.
The contest they have chosen to enter is exhausting at best and mortal at worst. There will be no trophies for villages cleared, ambushes eliminated or IED’s disarmed. The act of helping a child, healing a population or saving a companion will reap no reward other than satisfaction and pride in purpose and the bonding of the unit which form the temporary home. For this, they have forsaken all that we hold dear less that of service and dedication. They expose themselves for the benefit of their companions and do what needs to be done for a cause greater than themselves. They have no injured reserve list permitting an absence from the tasks. They work in total anonymity from everyone other than their immediate unit and now detached family. There, there is no bench or substitutes-everyone plays all the time and a clock holds no meaning.
The members of the Most Valuable Player list froze at Valley Forge, held at Gettysburg, secured Chateau Thierry, cleared Tarawa, seized Omaha Beach, secured the 38th Parallel and endured the unendurable in Vietnam. They restored democracy to Panama and Grenada, brought the light of liberty to areas of darkness in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. They are the structure and sinew that binds us as a Nation. They secure our right to be as bad or as good as we may wish. They insure we can sit together in a warm place and for sixty minutes be concerned about nothing more important than a transient athletic contest played by people who will have no earthly effect on our greater well-being. They cemented our creation and preserved our future. They are our Most Valuable Player. When the Super Bowl MVP is announced, pause for a moment and think of someone who chose not to be in the living room this day.