Two days ago I was at the gym, just getting ready to start my workout and a man asked me why I was wearing his shirt. The shirt he was referring to was a First Force Reconnaissance Company shirt that I wear fairly often. I think I looked at him like a doe in the headlights and I replied, “I do photos for the troops on Bodybuilding.com.” Now, that was an accurate answer but also wholly inadequate. I’ve thought about that a bit over the last days. I’m not a person who’s terribly verbally adept with strangers. Unless I know someone well or I see them often, I don’t talk much. It’s just my personality. I like to watch people for a while, be around them a bit before I feel comfortable with meaningful conversation. I have no problem writing however and thought I’d give a more complete answer here.
I wear that shirt out of respect, appreciation and gratitude. I’ve learned over the years that if you say thank you to a veteran or an active duty member of the military, particularly if they’ve had advanced training like Recon guys, SEAL’s or Special Forces the response you’re most likely to get is “Just doing my job” and then sometimes they’ll add a “ma’am” at the end. That’s certainly true but they’re doing something WAY out of the ordinary. I suppose they’re ordinary in that they’re sons, brothers, husbands and dads like other men but they’re hardly average citizens. They volunteer for some of the most intense training on this earth so that they can go out and do incredibly difficult, dangerous and often thankless work. They do it well and the stakes are their very lives. They’re the ones out there guarding the perimeter, doing the duty that lets the rest of us live lives of comfort. Many years ago when I first joined bodybuilding.com I read a post from a Marine who had a tag line that read “The Marines are at war. America is at the mall.” It made a deep impression on me. It’s true. These guys do such a great job that many of us only think about our troops on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day…and sometimes not even then. It’s a double-edged sword. Do your job well and you don’t win adulation, more likely you’re forgotten because nobody is worried about their saftey. A formidable military force that keeps the citizenry safe and secure is a wonderful thing but it also allows us to be cavalier. It allows us to forget about our warriors.
Two years ago a Marine contacted me through Bodybuilding.com and requested I post a photo of myself wearing that shirt. I was delighted to do so. Not only am I flattered that anyone cares in the least what I have on my shirt, it makes my heart happy to think that my military tribute photos might make someone out there having a bad day, grin, even if just for a moment. I want them to know someone at home (outside of their families) is thinking about them. The photos I post on Bodybuilding.com are visual thank you notes to our troops. I love doing them. There’s an expression that says…. a picture is worth a thousand words…and I hope it’s true.
To that Recon Marine in the gym….that’s why I wear your shirt. It’s an honor….and thank you….