Memorial Day is a time to reflect.
“It is an awesome holiday. A chance to remember those who served and paid the ultimate price and defended the life that we have come to enjoy in America,” says Colts linebacker Josh McNary.
“My dad was a Marine. He was an officer. And my grandparents both served.”
Still, McNary says growing up in Houston, he felt no pressure to pursue the military life. Instead, it kind of pursued him.
“I guess it kind of happened that way. It wasn’t anything that I was groomed to do or anything like that.”
When it came time to apply to college, McNary says he just felt drawn to the military academies.
“I first applied to the Merchant Marine Academy and they were actually interested in me for football. So, once they gained interest, I don’t know what happened between the academies, if they had some sort of network going on, but West Point started sending me information.”
And once he got there, he realized that influence was always in his life.
“My dad uses a lot of the same terms in the household. He holds me to a lot of the same standards that they hold us to as cadets. So, maybe I was kind of subliminally coached to be in that realm.”
Football was another big influence in his life. But McNary says he went to West Point with the intention of playing on another team.
“I wasn’t even expecting to play football until like my second year in the Army. When I graduated, I was fully expecting to be deployed and be another member of the team.”
That team – The U.S. Army.
McNary served two years of active duty in Fort Hood, Texas – a unit they actively deploy out of. As a lieutenant, McNary could have found himself in a combat role. Instead, he found himself signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts.
And while football operates much like the military and uses a lot of the same terminology, McNary says there’s one major difference.
“Teamwork is a big key. Over here, it might mean blowing a play and causing a touchdown to be scored on your team. And over there, if somebody isn’t accountable where they should be, it could have grave consequences.”
On Memorial Day, we remember those who served – on a team that asked everything of them and offered little in return.
They did it for pride. They did it for country. They did it for honor.
We honor them today. We honor them tomorrow. We honor them every day.