Monday, August 17, 2015

Just a game with no heroes

The 2015 season is very much over for the Red Sox. We have no pitching ace, the offense is spotty and last week when star closer Koji Uehara broke his wrist, the fat lady belted out an encore to make sure that her earlier song was not mistaken for a warm up ditty.

While seeing the team implode is unfortunate, baseball is just a game — and professional baseball is just a business. NESN can create all kinds of heartstring tugging commercials to keep us hooked but I suspect many other local fans are feeling as I am this week — not remotely interested in baseball and deeply saddened by the loss of a local hero.

I did not know Andrew McKenna. It seems odd in a small town with few military families, but from his record, it’s clear that he’s been serving our country in faraway hellholes for much of his career. A fellow Green Beret was quoted in the Army Times saying, "He's been in the military for 17 years, and there's not a day of the war that he missed, and at every point of his career, he volunteered to go further into harm's way. He's that guy who raises his hand and says, 'yeah, I'll go.'"

The word hero is thrown around far too much these days. I am sure I’ve said that David Ortiz was a “hero” in 2004. I was wrong. Heroes don’t play baseball. Heroes help other people by doing things that the rest of us can’t or won’t do. We have professional heroes in our communities like police and firefighters and others that rise to the occasion in a time of crisis. And then there are heroes among us like Andrew McKenna — they volunteer to serve in our military, take the most difficult assignments and do things that we don’t even want to know about in places that we don’t want them to be. They do their work day in and day out without recognition and with the knowledge that their sacrifices are barely understood or appreciated by the people they serve.

Living in our little corner of Rhode Island is a bit different of course. Our big 4th of July celebration brings smiles and tears every year while flags on every porch and our red white and blue stripe tell any visitor and remind any locals that we are proud Americans. I hope that these sights are daily reminders to the loved ones of Master Sergeant McKenna that we mourn their loss, appreciate his sacrifice and are eternally grateful to have had a real hero among us.

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