Hope this Thanksgiving Eve is treating you all well, readying for some family time, turkey, plus all the trimmings.
As for today’s countdown, our featured artist is the number 26.
No uniform numbers today, though.
Nor any tragically-ironic same-age minstrels.
No highway signs or rural routes.
Instead, we’re talking about floors and steps – lots of them.
Up four flights of stairs, halfway across a long outdoor corridor, and a hundred or so steps, with eventual arrival at Barracks Room 426, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, VA, 24450.
The VMI days do seem like another lifetime ago, but back then, I took that route regularly – up the stairs, across the stoop, into Barracks Room 426.
Echo Company, 1983
OK, so when you’re done trying to figure out how/make yourself believe that I was actually once that young, I’d imagine it’s not all that difficult to pick out a steely-eyed yours truly
in that photograph.
But that’s not really the point.
Instead, I’d like to recognize the “26” in 426 and all the guys in Echo Company and all the men of VMI (and the women, too, who first began matriculating in 1997).
For up all those flights and all those steps and all those uphill runs, the payoff at the end is that shared belief that nothing is too much to take. That there’s always a way to force yourself up another flight of stairs, or stride out a few more steps, or claw your way up a hill where the top isn’t anywhere in sight.
And every time in my life that I wanted to give up at something – where it seemed a ‘helluva lot easier to just quit – I thought of all those same guys in those pictures, plus so many others who just kept pushing themselves. Scratching and clawing and climbing those steps.
Onto the next challenge.
It’s a pretty solid metaphor for all of us, I think.
Maybe more now than in a very long time.
Twenty-six days left, gang. So, let’s fight forward.
Enjoy the holiday tomorrow,