A couple times over the past year I have been criticized by different people (one currently serving and the other a veteran) for participating in GORUCK events. Specifically, I was accused of “playing Army” and bring disrespectful to members of the armed forces.
I was stunned.
GORUCK exists to honor our military. The company was founded by a veteran with a background in special forces. One of the stated goals of GORUCK is to “build a bridge between the military and civilian worlds.”
Kind of difficult to do that when people are telling me what I do is “offensive.” That doesn’t build bridges—it burns them.
Just to be clear—I did not serve in the military. And I can’t go back in time to serve during WWII or Vietnam, or even to when I got out of high school. I spent the time between high school and now NOT participating in fitness activities of any kind. GORUCK and the endurance events they operate have been a godsend to me in many ways, one of which is connecting with servicemen and women who have become great friends.
And I respect and appreciate those who serve now as well as our veterans. I commend them for their sacrifice, their courage and their selflessness.
During GORUCK events, we carry an extra ruck (backpack)—“the ruck of the fallen.” So we honor the military in a tangible way at each grueling event. And we are required to bring $20 with us for each event—for cabfare in case we have to drop out. Almost without exception, it is freely donated after each event to a military charity chosen by the cadre in charge.
I went to Normandy on the D-day anniversary to push myself to the limit. GORUCK has three event levels—Heavy, Tough and Light. What I did in France was all three back-to-back-to-back. Almost 50 straight hours with almost no sleep. I cried with emotion at places like the American cemetery. And I cried with pain from overdoing it.
But what I went through was nothing compared to what the soldiers who were there experienced. Nothing.
I finished the GORUCK “HTL” and did pose for a photo on the beach with my patch. But not out of disrespect. Quite the opposite.
I wasn’t sitting on my ass binge-watching “Band of Brothers.” (I mean—OK, I did do that, but then I actually got off the couch and went out and busted my tail.)
I was pushing myself to (and beyond) my physical limits in honor of the men who served, in the place where they served and where so many fell, on the 72nd anniversary of the day they invaded Europe.
I did it to honor them.
We live in a world where everyone is offended about everything. I shouldn’t be surprised when these two men criticized my efforts, but for some reason I was, and I still am. But if GORUCK has taught me anything, it’s to not Fing quit. So I’ll continue on while they criticize. After all, they’ll find something else to be offended about within the next few hours anyway.