The reasons to reflect on Memorial Day are many. A good friend, a WWII pilot now 93-years old, still flies his light plane. Now cruising over peaceful fields and expansive deserts of the American West, his months of turmoil circling Europe’s darkened skies are replaced by the freedom he was part of earning 70 years ago.
Taking wing on a running trail around a serene park in the Midwest, the very clothes, shoes and fitness technology I’m wearing are, in large measure, outgrowths of military, emergency services and NASA research. Regardless of your view of armed conflict, the fact remains: weather-fighting featherweight fabrics, zipperless closures, high-traction outsoles and GPS technology are among the many advances interwoven with performance research. And grounded in histories harsh realities and heartbreaks.
Kevin Fong, in his worthwhile 2014 book Extreme Medicine: How Exploration Transformed Medicine in the Twentieth Century, highlights both civilian and military situations that prompted significant advances in emergency medicine. Treatments for exposure to cold, for example, that mountaineers and weekend adventurers rely upon to save life and limb today. Burn and wound care techniques prompted by courageous, wounded aviators.
Tributes take many forms. Today, in addition to gratitude for being able to run without fear, my gear speaks loudly about the what it means to serve and protect. The ROAD ID wristband I’m relying upon hinges on skilled women and men, ready to response, whose trauma training came at great cost.
Here’s to remembering what’s behind all of our amazing days ahead