Disabled Vets, Troops Compete in First Warrior Games
(May 13, 2010)
|COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 11, 2010 – Let the games begin.|
With the lighting of the ceremonial Olympic cauldron by
National Football League hall of famer and U.S. Naval
Academy graduate Roger Staubach, the much-anticipated
inaugural Warrior Games are under way.
Some 200 wounded warriors and disabled veterans from all
five branches of military service marched proudly down Irwin
“Ike” Belk Olympic Path at the U.S. Olympic Training Center
here yesterday evening in the games' opening ceremony.
|Team Marine Corps marches down Olympic Path to
a cheering crowd during the opening ceremony of the inaugural
Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado
Springs, Colo., May 10, 2010.
The ceremony marks the culmination of months of training and an even longer road
to recovery for many of the athletes. And although the games are a time for
competition and celebration, it may be difficult not to reflect on how the
troops earned the title of wounded warrior.|
Many had fallen victim to roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others
suffer from the psychological toll of long bouts of combat. All served and were
willing to sacrifice their lives for their country.
“The cloth of your nation is proud of you today,” Air Force Gen. Victor E.
Renuart Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace
Defense Command, said at the ceremony. “The flag that you fought to represent is
proud of you.”
Despite their disabilities, this group of troops has learned to adapt and
achieve what many of them may have thought impossible. They marched down the
Olympic Path with prosthetic limbs and in wheelchairs with a glow of confidence
gleaming from within the formation. The roar of cheers from hundreds of
families, friends and supporters may have made it difficult for them to disguise
their rough, tough military personas.
But the truth is they should be proud. The troops have come a long way to
compete in the Paralympic-style events. More than a few of the participants were
restricted at one time to their hospital beds, unable to walk and get around on
their own. But this week, they will display their re-learned skills in track and
field, cycling, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, archery, swimming and
Their resolve and desire to improve their lives is an inspiration for the
nation, Renuart said, and is in keeping with the military community's goal to
build resilience among its members. The games are a testament of the influence
of sports and proof of what one can accomplish through determination and will
power, the general added, noting that the games are a “significant event” for
Defense Department and military leaders.
“They know how important this is,” he
said, “not just to you, but to our services and what we hope to promote for each
and every one of our men and women serving as they go forward in their lives.”
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter hailed the troops as heroes and role models, calling
them “the pride of America” for volunteering to serve and for their ability to
triumph over adversity.
|Some 200 wounded warriors and disabled
veterans look on as Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter speaks during the
opening ceremony of the inaugural Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic
Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 10, 2010.
“You really are the core of who we are as a people,” Ritter said. “Your
resilience exemplifies the kinds of things that we would all like to believe
about ourselves -- that we would like our children to emulate.”|
Juan M. Garcia III, assistant Navy secretary for manpower and reserve affairs,
lauded the troops for their willingness to compete and to never give up on
themselves and their nation. He praised their readiness to accept new
“Who could not be inspired by what's going on here?” Garcia asked. “Before us
are men and women who suffered injuries both physical and mental. [But] they
refuse to be defeated, no matter where their battlefields were –- Afghanistan,
Iraq, rehab centers or even their own minds.
“It's old clich� saying, ‘Getting here makes you winners, no matter the results
of the competition,'” Garcia continued. “But just because it's clich� doesn't
make it less true.”
The games are a joint venture of the Defense Department, the U.S. Olympic
Committee and the USO to promote resilience and the healing power of sports.
Officials hope to make the games an annual event and possibly expand
participation and future venues.
Competition begins today, and the closing ceremony is May 14.
Army SFC Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
More 2010 Warrior Games Photos |
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