Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Active military in the Olympics

This story is on the eighteen active members of the U.S. military taking part in the Olympics.

Phil Carter has a short comment: " The Army, Navy and Air Force each sent servicemembers to compete this year, and a few are expected to bring home a medal based on what I read last week in Sports Illustrated. Of course, soldiers competing in the Olympics is nothing new. Warriors competed in Ancient Greece, and many of the events continue to retain the martial influence of those original games. Sports such as shooting, wrestling, and even men’s gymnastics contain some elements of military skill. Indeed, the modern pentathlon was originally only open to military officers -- a very young George S. Patton competed for the U.S. in this event in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. (He placed 5th overall) Today’s American warrior-athletes can lay claim to a long and proud lineage, and I look forward to seeing them on the medal stand this year."

Discussions - 3 Comments

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I have watched the Olympics every night for the past week and have been aware that something is missing during brief interviews with the athletes (not just the egotistical "dream team" professional basketball players). Almost no one I have seen interviewed has expressed any pride in competing or winning medals for love of country. They have boasted of their individual performances or more generously of their effort for their team, but most have neglected the fact, at least overtly, that they are representing their country with honor, pride, and virtue. There is certainly a general feeling that this is true in terms of wearing the country’s colors and waving the flag, and it may be present in interviews in sports periodicals that I do not read, but I wish it were more evident in the athletes’s gut reactions in television interviews seen by millions. I welcome corrections or comments on these thoughts.

I thought the four men who swam last night to Olympic gold in the 4x200m freestyle did their country proud when they doffed their wreaths and placed them over their hearts as the U.S. national anthem played. Of course, it would be nice if any of the U.S. athletes did more than mouth the last few lines of the anthem, but it is such an emotional moment that I don’t begrudge them much for simply paying their respect to the flag in dignified silence.

I agree, Lucas. There has, indeed, been touching moments of symbolic patriotism that does us proud. It might be interesting to hear some expressions of competing for love of country.

As a side comment, I find it interesting that some athletes are removing their olive wreaths during the National Anthem. I wonder what the etiquette for that is. As I said to my wife, "It’s not a hat." She laughed. I like the wreaths - they are a nice nostalgic affectation.

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