Memorial Day Tribute 2011 - Revisited
Youth is a blessing. Senior years are good, too. The advantage of our senior years is that we can sit, sip our coffee and remember both the good and hard times of the Oakland Raiders. On Memorial Day 2011, we remember the contributions of others.
The seniors tell the story so that the younger generation can eventually gain the depth and understanding to lead and move forward.
This writer became a Oakland Raiders fan in the '60s, and observed the good times of Raider Nation. It is uplifting to remember that our team was a winning team.
We felt elevated because our team was elevated. In a '60s society wretched with assassinations and protests, we still felt like winners.
Those communities felt like they, too, could eventually rise up and win in America.
Many of those communities have risen up and prospered, and are now telling these stories of achievement to their children and grandchildren.
Recent years have been more humbling for the Oakland Raiders. Our vision is of a team that gets back to the playoffs and starts winning at least a couple of Super Bowls.
These wins would make the seniors shout with joy. And, you can only have real joy if you have past sorrows with which to compare it.
The joy becomes so sweet when you see how far you have come to rise above your sorrows.
Let's sit on this Memorial Day, slow down and humble down to remember each and every player who is a senior Oakland Raider. Let's also remember our military men, both young and old.
Some of us are old enough to remember when the United States had a mandatory draft program to enlist young men, willing or not, to serve their country for the sake of themselves and others.
A dig through the archives shows us that Al Davis served in the U. S. Army. He also coached at The Citadel.
Warren Wells was drafted and he served. He finished with an excellent five-year career. He is unique in that the gap in his career comes from his willingness to serve his country. Without his service in the military, from 1965-1966, he would have had seven years in the NFL.
There are many others who served and many who died. We honor all of them, no matter what their present state may be. We commit to researching to discover their present state during their senior years.
Some of these veterans are now homeless. Some are not of sound mind because of the pressures of life, both in the military and at home.
Some returned from Vietnam, for example, and could not find jobs or a place to fit.
Some are regular visitors of the Veteran's Hospitals across the United States. Some are on medication for the remaining portion of their lives.
But, no matter what state these men find themselves in, they must remember that we love them, and we appreciate them for serving in the military in the United States of America. We also appreciate the seniors who played professional football during times of conflict and war.
And for those who played professional football for the Oakland Raiders, we salute them, too. While some strong young men played for the Raiders, their friends and relatives served in the military. It all works together for the preservation of the American spirit.
The question is, how do we celebrate their contributions to our freedom, liberty and justice?
Here is an answer. They serve so that we who are beneficiaries, can pursue excellence and recommit to the Oakland Raiders' motto, "Commitment of Excellence."
Is the younger generation truly appreciative of the contributions of the older Oakland Raiders, a team which has encouraged and uplifted the spirit of millions of Americans?
We demonstrate our appreciation by showing the type of integrity that aligns what we say with what we do.
The younger generation of Oakland Raiders must demonstrate a high level of integrity in 2011.
They are young.
They are intelligent.
They are increasing their football character and football intelligence.
Finally, Memorial Day is a day to remember not only the contributions of military men, women and civilian volunteers who support the military in America, but it is also a day to say "thank you" to a team that has helped lift up the spirit of America during the hard times and the good times.
Thanks to you, Al Davis, for your many years of advocacy and forward-thinking in the NFL and in America!