Monday, September 10, 2012

Every F'ing Step.

Yep, it's a bit crude. Certainly not my normal language here. But sometimes, a lesson demands the exact truth.

Saturday morning, I woke up in a cranky mood. I had to get out and get my recovery day mile in, and I just didn't want to do it. Of course, I'm over 80 days into my Summer of Run Challenge, so I knew I was going to do it. I just didn't have to like it.

 Before heading out the door, I stopped to check Facebook. I saw that a friend had posted a message about a Marine funeral taking place just a few miles from my house. The family had made a request for volunteers to stand "guard" at the funeral, since the Westboro Baptist Church idiots had threatened to protest the funeral.

I saw the message just after 9:30am, so I had already missed my chance to go. But learning of this Marine's passing hit me hard. I shared this on my Facebook wall before I started running:
As I head out for my morning run, I'll be thinking of USMC Sgt Stephen E. "Zeb" Clemons, 2/4 Marines (Magnificent Bastards), Golf Co., being laid to rest just miles away from where I am. Stephen passed away at the age of 28 at Naval Medical Center, San Diego, due to complications of cancer. He is survived by his wife, Mother and Father. Stephen was an only child.
This morning, I won't complain or bitch about the heat, or the road, or the distance. I will rejoice with each step that I am alive and able to run. Today, I will not take my good health and able body for granted.
Reading about Sgt Clemons changed my perspective. Instead of just running my one mile recovery run, I decided to run the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test distance of three miles. During the start of the last mile, as it was getting warmer and I was feeling out of breath, I reminded myself of my earlier promise. And I started saying, out loud, "Every. F*cking, Step. Every. F*cking. Step."

And in those moments, I ran a little faster and cried more than a few tears for a Marine I have never even met in person. But he was there pushing me and that made the difference today.

As I said, I realize the language is harsh. But those words are exactly what popped into my head as I was running. I choose to believe that a certain Marine Sergeant was running along with me to "gently encourage me" lest I think for a second about slowing down or stopping.

I have a body capable of doing great things. I pray for the mental strength to never forget that, to always remember that I have a responsibility to run for those who no longer can.

Semper Fi, Sgt Clemons. Godspeed, Devil Dawg.


 And more about this Marine from a dear friend of his, Mariso...

 "That Boy loved his Country , defending it was his Pride & Joy. He was a deployed a few times, Iraq ( 2 times) and a MEU in 2009, and his last deployment to Afghanistan in Aug 2011, which sadly he couldn't complete, He had to come home in Oct because a Doctor diagnosed him with cancer. Steve or "Zeb" as he was referred to was a vibrant and joyful guy, like I said he loved his Country, his Country Music, his GUNS! and Dodge Trucks. Steve always had a big smile on his face, one of his favorite words to say was Awesome!
Nobody would believe how many times he volunteered to go to Afghanistan, even while on being on his last MEU he would talk about how he wanted to go and be in combat. He talked about it constantly. He loved it. He loved Scary movies, and loved Will Ferrell, Talladega Nights was one of his favorite movies, the redneck in him of course. He loved Mnt dew and Bud Light was his beer of choice. He was full of life , nothing would bring him down, nothing was ever too hard, no situation was ever too bad. 
He would take off the shirt on his back and would give it to anyone who might need it, because that was the way he was raised. He said Yes Ma'am and Yes Sir, he was a southern gentlemen, he opened doors, pulled chairs out, ect. His smile was contagious, he believed in being honest, no matter if it made people mad.
One of his favorite songs was Chicken Fried, by a country group called Zac Brown, " Salute the ones who die the ones who give their lives so we don't have to sacrifice all the things we love, like our chicken fried, cold beer on a Friday night a pair of jeans that fit just right and the radio on " was his favorite verse . Lets not get started on his love for Walmart.. he loved it , He proudly would wear his cut off shirts and his infamous RealTree cap with a Fish hook on it (that was his trade mark)."
Stephen was from Radcliff, Ky but was actually born in Germany on a military base, as his Dad was active duty at the time.

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