Ok, it didn’t exactly grow legs and walk to Camp Lejune – it was taken there by Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley. This is an awesome story:
The Stanley Cup flew into Raleigh, North Carolina just before 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 13, ready to spend a couple of days with Hurricanes’ defenseman Glen Wesley. Wesley, who just completed his 18th NHL season, and eighth with Carolina, had withstood 1,311 regular season NHL contests before finally earning the opportunity to cradle hockey’s biggest prize, and wasn’t going to waste a second of his time with the Stanley Cup.
There to meet the Stanley Cup were Wesley, his wife Barb, and their children Amanda, Matt and Josh. Wesley and Barb were high school sweethearts in Red Deer, Alberta and have now been married 18 years. The five Wesleys drove with the Stanley Cup to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, a military base the family regularly drives past on their way to the beach. Located about two and a half hours from Raleigh, the Wesleys felt that taking the Stanley Cup to the Wounded Warriors at Camp Lejeune would give them the opportunity to personally and appropriately thank the Marines for their service on behalf of the country.
Wesley and his family were escorted to the barracks to meet several young men wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq and who are receiving physical and/or mental rehabilitation. As Wesley stepped through the doors, holding the Stanley Cup over his head in triumph, the Marines exploded in excitement. They clapped, hooted and hollered. Those who question the impact that hockey and the Stanley Cup have made on the southern United States need only have witnessed the spontaneous outpouring of enthusiasm exhibited by the wounded Marines at Camp Lejeune.
Wesley placed Lord Stanley’s Cup on a table. After some Stanley Cup history was presented, he opened the floor to questions from the Marines.
“How many beers will the Cup hold?” The crowd roared, and after a question like that opened the proceedings, all knew it was going to be a fun afternoon. Oh, by the way, the answer is fourteen. Other questions included whether Wesley still has all his own teeth (“Yeah, surprisingly, I do,” came Wesley’s response) and, “What was the best fight you ever were in?” Wesley smiled and said there’ve been too many to pick just one.
What easily could have been a somber afternoon was, surprisingly, not like that at all. Each of the 43 Marines who make up the Wounded Warriors was injured abroad while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. After they had exhausted questions to him, Wesley turned the tables and asked the boys what they had witnessed and how they had received their wounds. They were quick with a joke and not afraid at all to discuss their injuries. Several of the heroes had lost limbs, three had lost an eye. Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Maxwell, the founder of the Wounded Warriors, stepped up and prompted his crew to tell Wesley and his family how they “got whacked.” He himself was injured by a mortar blast in Iraq in 2004. Some were injured by suicide bombers. Others were near a bomb when it exploded. One Marine explained, “I got more metal in my leg than a hardware store!”
The Stanley Cup: the gift that keeps on givin’
Thanks to ST reader Fat Tone for sending along the link.
Related: God Bless America! Ben Stein writes:
And who made it possible? The nation that armed and fought the Nazis and the Japanese, that ran into Nazi machine gun fire at Omaha Beach to liberate France, that fought some of the worst fighting in history in the Huertgen Forest, that charged into Japanese Nambu bullets on Okinawa to beat the Emperor, that sent its best and brightest to fight the battles that saved the world from a thousand year reign of darkness.
And who still makes it possible for me to have as my main concern the keyless starters on my car? Or the heat today? Who makes it possible? The guy who faces worse heat than this every day with body armor and no air conditioning and brutal killers laying explosives for him and sniping at him — and her — at every turn. It is impossible to go out in this heat here in Rancho Mirage. But our soldiers and Marines and Seals and Air Force people do it every day while getting shot at.
God bless this glorious American military, every wife, every child, every parent, and endless prayers for them to return home safe, mission accomplished. God bless them every moment of every day for keeping safe this America, inside of which we live as powerfully as we live in our skin. This has to be the central fact of our lives: gratitude for the men and women who make this great life possible, who wear the uniform and cover it with glory.
Hat tip: Kevin Funnell, who has written a stirring post honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and the way of life they defended: ours.