I will never forget where I was when I heard the news.
I have been blessed and impacted by the many children I have been given the opportunity to coach. I could never put into writing the feelings, emotions, and total impact they have had on my life. But today I want to share about 1 exceptional player. A brief glimpse to tribute one of the most outstanding players I have ever been blessed to coach, and a friendship that gave joy beyond compare. Kevin Smith was an amazing young man. He played goalkeeper for the team I was coaching in Brandon at the club I continue to serve. He also attended the church I attended. He was not my son, not my brother, but he became family.
I have so many fond memories of canoeing, church youth group, the many conversations about life, woman, soccer, school, and friendships. But especially the many hours training for the game he loved, and he became one of the best. He had an amazing work ethic, determination, and drive for success. Kevin also demonstrated outstanding character, honesty, compassion, and courage. He was a true leader who was unselfish and loyal. He carried these traits into the young man he would become. He was accepted into West Point where he continued to play soccer but developed into a man. We maintained our friendship throughout. When I was 40, I went back to college and when I was going through a struggle Kevin reminded me, nothing worthwhile in life is easy, you got this coach. Kevin could have chosen any career. Professional player, CEO, whatever he wanted. Kevin Smith chose to serve his family, me, you, and our country. He stood tall, at the front to lead and be our protector of Freedom.
I will never forget where I was when I heard the news. I was helping a friend and his wife move when I got the news. My brothers voice on the other end of the phone, telling me that Kevin had died in Iraq. A bomb exploded and tore a hole in his Humvee. His last words were “look after my men”. By the grace of God, I was riding with a young military man who had just returned home. Just he and I in the truck, someone who understood. And as I began to cry, he said I am here for you. He was a stranger, someone I met 2 hours prior. Kevin Died in December of 2005.
I still cry when I think of Kevin Smith. He loved his family, God, and gave all for his country. He epitomized what a great human being is and represented the United States of America, our great country. I will forever be in sorrow of the loss of someone so amazing but be joyful in knowing he is with our Lord.
Remember what Memorial Day is about. Recognizing and remembering the amazing people who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, that we can live ours in freedom.
Please do this in remembrance, take time Memorial Day. I will be taking the time at 2 pm Memorial Day. Turn off the electronics, tv, computer, gaming consoles, set down the phones and tablets. Interrupt the BBQ, pause the corn-hole game. Be still and let the sound of the fallen be the silence. Take time to honor, remember and memorialize.
Gary Rach, Executive Director