By Sarah Greer, WTC Stratcom
I had the honor of attending the Opening Ceremonies of the inaugural Warrior Games. This may be one of the most memorable, inspiring evenings of my life, and I know those around me felt the same way.
“This feels like the Olympics because it is like the Olympics,” BG Gary Cheek, Commander of the Warrior Transition Command, told the Army team before the event. “You’re athletes—you’re here to compete and to win.”
Standing at the U.S. Olympic Training Center was incredible—if you listened closely, you could hear many of the 1,500 spectators talk about the Olympians and Paralympians that had inspired them through the decades—track and field champions, hockey teams, swimmers, figure skaters, and so many others. Everywhere you walk on this campus, you see the names and images of many of America’s greatest athletes.
Each of the teams marched down the Olympic Pathway, followed by one torchbearer from each of the services. The Army led, and the Coast Guard representative handed off the flame to retired football star Roger Staubach, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, who lit the Warrior Games cauldron. As the cauldron erupted in flames, the crowd and athletes chanted, “USA! USA! USA!” with contagious enthusiasm.
The speakers emphasized that, just like all services come together to defend America’s freedom, this week, all services are competing as Team USA. At the end of the week, the medal count, Ultimate Champion, and Commander’s Cup don’t matter as much as the patriotism and can-do attitude.
The athletes competing this week really belong here—they’re such dynamic, resilient, and incredible people. As they marched down the Olympic Pathway, no one saw disabilities—instead, we all noticed the pride, the determination of these Americans who have sacrificed so much for our country. Beyond the friendly rivalry between services, there was a deeper bond; they understand the rewards of overcoming impossible odds.