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A Memorable Day at The Warrior Open
By Greg Norman
On Sunday, October 9th, I had the great honor of playing golf with some of the most impressive men I have ever met in my life! I am talking about America's Wounded Warriors: men who have returned home after being seriously wounded in the line of duty, either in Afghanistan or Iraq. There are no doubt hundreds of these soldiers out there, both here in the U.S. as well as in many countries around the world, including my homeland of Australia. But what made the soldiers who I personally met UNIQUE, was that they had all used golf as a tool for rehabilitation and now continue to play it actively, despite prosthetic limbs and numerous other unspeakable injuries. President George W. Bush had the great foresight to organize the Bush Center’s Military Service Initiative to support these heroes, which includes an annual golf event called The Warrior Open, for which I volunteered to help.
Unfortunately for us (but luckily for the state of Texas), it was pouring with rain the day I was scheduled to play. We only managed 9 holes in the end but the sheer effort and determination these young soldiers demonstrated in overcoming their personal physical limitations to play was pure, quintessential "Armed Forces" discipline, commitment and dedication that I am sure, you could never learn anywhere else. Never again will I ever complain about another ailment! These guys are my IDOLS!
Later that evening during a dinner at President Bush's home, each one of these men was invited by Mr. President to stand up and share their private accounts of how they were injured. Each tale moved me beyond words and yes, there were tears! Tears of pain, suffering, compassion and deep reverence. Despite the horror of war, there were seemingly and incredibly, no regrets to speak of! These men remain grateful, strong, mature & dedicated to the core. Each one of them was very matter-of-fact about the 30-odd surgeries they had endured. Most striking of all was the fact that they were ALL still staunchly devoted to their original Commander-In-Chief, President George W. Bush! One after the other said they would return to battle, if only they were able, for HIM and for this great country! Mind-blowing.
I thought long and hard afterwards about how these young kids actually volunteered to sacrifice life, limb and family in the name of freedom; a privilege most people in first world countries have come to expect, without realizing what is involved in securing that luxury. These men have paid a higher individual price pursuing our freedom than any President, CEO, athlete or actor. These men have an incredible code of honor, triggered by a powerful love for their country and a tremendous respect for their Commander-in-Chief. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. I only wish EVERYONE would have the opportunity to meet at least one of these warriors one day. There will always be detractors of any given cause, but when you are privy to the make-up and inner-workings of these gutsy warriors, you truly understand why the United States of America is the country it is.
As an Australian who has lived in the U.S. since 1981, I cannot tell you how proud I am that my country has stood beside the United States as a trusted ally, in every conflict since WW1. It is precisely why I have always been willing and open to attend/host numerous events in honor of the U.S. Armed Forces whenever possible. That day in Dallas, Texas, however, with those particular Wounded Warriors, will hands-down be one of the most memorable of my career.
- Greg Norman
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