It Ain't Over Till It's Over

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

We hear a lot these days about how the military is having a tough time filling their recruiting quotas. Multiple news sources have reported that the number of physically fit young people of recruitment age is declining dramatically. This seems to be due to several factors, including more young people being overweight. This may be because so of them are spending more time on computer screens and smartphones than they are getting out regularly and exercising these days.

Given that unsettling information, the video you will see here is remarkably fascinating, even a bit shocking. This short film covers a track and field competition. The competition is an established event in which the participants are not college athletes or professional track stars; rather, they are what we euphemistically call, "senior citizens." What struck me about this race is that it is such a paradox to the growing number of stories about the diminishing numbers of young people who are healthy enough to serve in the military these days.

 width= Photo: YouTube/MileSplit

The gist of this story is that the men you see lining up for the 100-meter dash are all over 70 years of age. You might argue that they are unusual specimens in their own right, but there they are, lining up to run one of the most demanding speed races in track and field at any age. As you will see, they are in great shape. It will blow your mind how fast these men are when you watch the race unfold. They have clearly taken care of themselves over the course of their lives. They have apparently chosen to be conscious of their physical well-being. Pay special attention to the guy in the middle lane, Michael Kish. He blows the competition out of the water. And again, this guy is over 70. His form is great, and he runs strong all the way through the finish line.

Ok, yes, there is the matter of genetics, of course, but even with good genes, it is also an even more important matter to develop the habits of self-discipline and regular exercise to remain in this kind of shape at any age, especially as a senior citizen. I have thought about this a lot myself. Last year at about this time, and at age 75, I fulfilled one of my bucket list dreams, that is, to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I walked the French Camino that begins in St. Jean Pied de Port, France, on the north side of the Pyrenees Mountains, and ends 500 miles later in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It took 36 days of walking, but I found it exhilarating and experienced no physical issues, not even blisters. The sense of accomplishment and joy I felt upon arriving in the great plaza before the cathedral in Santiago remains with me today. I hope to do it again with a nephew, but this time from Portugal.

 width= Photo: YouTube/MileSplit

The fact that so many young people of recruiting age are not in the physical condition that is required for entering the service is concerning. It is not a matter human physical capacities declining. Human beings are no less physically capable today than they were 70 years ago. So, what causes the diminishing numbers of physically eligible candidates for military service today? It most likely is a combination of things, but, in any case, it is a matter of real concern and maybe even cause for concern at the level of our national security, now and in the future.

These 70-year-old track stars in this video make a statement about having a healthy attitude toward life and about living life to the fullest of one's ability. They are examples for those still young enough to start choosing lifestyles and activities that will keep them strong and healthy for the rest of their lives. We are living longer today than ever. Who doesn't want to live with the kind of gusto and determination that these over-70 gentlemen demonstrate here? These guys could still pass the entrance physicals and the annual physicals that are required for active-duty personnel in the military today.

Honor and respect to the winner of this race and to all who participated. Thanks for showing us all that "It ain't over till it's over!"

Dan Doyle

Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.

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