Most people find the everyday stories of our veterans and their accomplishments extremely inspirational and why shouldn’t they? After all they willingly choose to join an organization which is demanding, stressful, and dangerous. But most of all and a fact that is hardly ever mentioned is their age. They are some of our youngest members of our society and despite their youth they seemingly accomplish the impossible.
Being that it is Veteran’s Day here are some stories about two young men who served their country and went on to do great things with their lives. For not only their service but their accomplishments after the military, we honor them.
Coming off the field during an Oct. 6 game against Georgia Tech, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was having an “off” moment. So while the Tigers’ defense battled the Yellow Jackets’ offense (in a game that Clemson would win, 47-31), Boyd approached teammate Daniel Rodriguez for a quick talk.
“He was like, ‘Man, just go out there and ball off with these guys,’” Boyd says. “He says stuff like that that sparks you. And he makes you appreciate things more — we complain and make excuses, but he reminds you that there are people out there risking their lives.”
Rodriguez, an Army veteran who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, is playing in his first season with the Tigers. After joining the team as a walk-on this summer, the 5-foot-8, 24-year-old freshman has earned a starting spot on special teams. Just as important as his play on the field has been his impact off it, sharing his experiences with teammates and inspiring them through their 8-1 season.
“Daniel always brings energy to practice and games and that’s something you can’t coach,” senior center Dalton Freemansays. “We thrive off of his energy. It’s a great reminder that life is so much more than football, so you should take everything you do seriously.” [...]
On Thursday evening, Bernard James will almost certainly be one of 60 players selected in the 2012 NBA Draft. He has received interest from a number of teams picking early in the second round including the Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors. Barring the unexpected, James will hear his name called on draft night and he’ll begin his NBA career.
However, this won’t be James’ first full-time job.
Prior to finding basketball, James completed a six-year term in the United States Air Force, serving three tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar. James enlisted in the Air Force when he was 17 years old and eventually rose to the rank of staff sergeant.
In Iraq, he guarded thousands of detainees at Camp Bucca. In Qater, he secured buildings and airplanes. In Afghanistan, he worked as military law enforcement. He once had a 40-millimeter round land 90 feet away from him, killing six detainees and wounding many more.
James describes his path to the NBA as “peculiar” and he knows he isn’t your typical prospect. At 27 years old, James is literally a man among boys in this draft. He’s by far the oldest player in the class and he’ll become the oldest collegian selected in the past 20 years, surpassing Dikembe Mutumbo who turned 25 years old one day after being picked in 1991. James is extremely unique, but he feels that his unconventional route to the NBA is what separates him from the other prospects in this year’s draft.[...]
I suggest reading both of these young men’s accounts in detail, they are inspirational. They really are the best in all of us.