Before we settle into the weekend, I’d like to tear your attention away from power ball winnings or alt-right nonsense and share with you something more deserving our all of our attentions. I know this isn’t travel related but something that has always inspired me, much like seeing the world does, is the dedication of others to make the world a better place in whatever way they are presented to. This year I was given the incredible opportunity to represent The Pat Tillman Foundation. This is more than a pat on the back for my accolades and a check in hand — it is the opportunity to pay it forward and to create a ripple effect of good onto the community that I serve. This brings me to the heart of the Pat Tillman Foundation.
For those that don’t know Pat was a skilled athlete who was always told he was too small to play football but would carry on to play for the Arizona Cardinals. He was more than an athlete, he had a passion for learning and bettering himself along with truly wanting to learn more about others and hearing their stories. He challenged himself on and off the field by earning his B.S. in marketing, graduating Summa Cum Laude and in his spare time studied philosophy while earning his MA. He was a man who knew his purpose in life and knew he had a greater calling. He turned down a $3.6 million contract to enlist in the army and served tours in both Iraq (2003) and Afghanistan (2004) where he was killed. His death was the subject of immense investigation and controversy and covered widely by the media. In a great attempt to preserve Pats legacy, the Pat Tillman Foundation was established to carry forward its view of Tillman’s legacy by inspiring and supporting those striving for positive change in themselves and the world. I hope to embody this whole heartedly with everything that I do so that I can help to carry on the name of someone who gave everything he had.
After todays orientation, I’m feeling a little sentimental couldn’t help by share my feelings of gratitude. Today I was able to hear some of the wonderful women who run the foundation speak of Pat and the foundation and they beam with pride when they tell his story. It brings me to tears and sends a spark through my limbs. When I am long gone, I hope people speak of me with even half of the reverence they do for this man. We began hearing about the scholars that are chosen each year, 60, to be exact and this year they have chosen 61.
That 61st person this year is Kyle Milliken. A bronze star with valor and Silver star (ph) for heroic action in combat recipient, Kyle’s acceptance as a Tillman Scholar is posthumous. May 5th of this year Kyle was killed during a mission in Somalia. I well up with tears as I write this and I know that it doesn’t hit home for many but this man was more than just a soldier. He was a father, husband, son, brother, and friend with a passion for life and influencing culture inspired by open communication, competition and efficiency. This man, Kyle, had aspirations of combining his experiences as a SEAL to enhance a career in leadership and management to mentor future SEAL leaders while continuing his career within the Naval Special Warfare community. He saw a way to his skills from training and competitive nature as a way to fulfill his desire to make a positive impact on the world. Kyle’s legacy is one that I will carry forward with the utmost pride, just as I carry on Pats and I hope after reading, you will too.
If the loss of great men doesn’t strike you to the core, try to put yourself in their, or their families, place. There are men (and women) day in and day out. every hour, every minute and every second of the day serving both you and I. They sleep in boxes or tents. They go weeks without showering. They go hungry. They miss birthdays. They miss anniversaries. They miss funerals. They put in work and they die. For us. Not “someone else’s war” but for us. and people they may never meet. At the end of the day those that give their time are public servants and they do so of free will to make the world a better place.
I heard their stories and felt compelled to share, and if you’ve made it this far thank you. Hearing them solidified my place and my next move which feels harder than anything I’ve done but knowing that with the foundation they have laid for others to continue on, I will do so with out looking back. Not everyone needs to go and change the world through military service but I ask you what steps are you taking to do your part? What can you do to uphold the memory and legacy of people like Pat and Kyle whose ambition to see great change was cut short? What can we all do to ensure their legacy of making a positive impact on the world was not in vain?
I will challenge my self each day in and out to stomp the hell out of health issues that plague the disenfranchised and developing worlds. I’m looking forward to 2018 because it offers more challenge than I set out to conquer but after hearing their stories I’m more ready than ever.
I would love to hear your thoughts