Satchel Paige once asked, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?" Never are these words truer than at my local YMCA. In case you've forgotten, YMCA stands for Young Men's Christian Association, but who exactly are these "young men?"
I see these "young men" regularly. They greet you with a strong handshake and a kind word, and always give you something to smile about. They have a few rings around their trunks, and some of their parts aren't exactly where God had originally installed them, but they're young in spirit, mind and heart. They have an easy manner that can only be the result of a long and satisfying life. They also have a twinkle in their eye that says they might have gotten away with a few things along the way.
The men's locker room is where the world's problems are cussed and discussed. To enjoy the debate, just pull up a stool, wrap your towel tight, and let the banter begin. Their bodies have paid their dues, but their minds still offer a lot of wisdom. These "'young men" offer marital advice, help you with your golf swing, barbeque, fire ants, tomatoes and where to find the best chicken fried steak. They beam with pride when the subject of grandkids comes up, and youth soccer now takes precedence over the Dallas Cowboys.
These "young men" are of different ages, races, education and income. There are milkmen, oil men, doctors, soldiers, farmers, salesmen, laborers, preachers and teachers. I don't know if they're Republicans or Democrats, but the common thread seems to be a belief in hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice for family and country.
At an age when I was chasing girls at fraternity parties, these "young men" were fighting wars. They returned home when many didn't. They were plowing fields with a team of mules and chopping wood to heat a home. Carrying water involved a bucket and not a Dasani bottle.
One drove a tank under Patton, while one liberated France. Another served in the South Pacific and was scheduled to invade Japan if we hadn't dropped the atomic bombs. Others served in Korea and Vietnam. One had been shot in the line of duty enforcing our laws. You would never know these things because of their humility and sense of honor.
Something deeper is going on here. They won't say it, but I certainly see it. ... These "young men" represent what America stands for. Contrary to what President Obama professes, these men believe in an America of personal responsibility not government reliance, a country of character, not characters.
These "young men" represent the can-do spirit of America. The only time these men stuck their hand out was to grab a shovel, a plow, a uniform, a badge or a Bible. They didn't look to the government to solve their problems. They sacrificed, suffered and persevered because that's what American's do. They realized that it was up to them to provide for their family and not the government's responsibility. They are living proof that the American dream is alive and well. They have showed me that being rich is not a monetary measurement but being able to look at one's life and know you've done your best.
These "young men" also represent the America that truly respected women and the sanctity of marriage. When they speak of their wives of 50-plus years, their eyes light up as if they had just left the prom together. A widower once told me his marriage was like a 53-year honeymoon.
I dread the mornings I see an obituary taped to the counter because I know the Lord has called another servant to heaven. I don't mourn the loss but instead celebrate the life and pray that I use what I learned from that "young man" wisely. These men inspire me daily, and I only hope that I live long enough to someday become one of those young men at the YMCA.
Dear Mark is a public platform for your enrichment and entertainment.
COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM