As it appeared on www.dickvitaleonline.com in October 2005 by Dick Vitale:
"I was at MacDill Air Force base in Florida, speaking to hundreds of service members who will be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. They will represent our beautiful nation and the red, white and blue.
Within my speech, I told them how proud our country was of them, those willing to make sacrifices to help better our lives.
I also had a chance to share that many Hall of Fame coaches -- like Mike Krzyzewski, Bob Knight, Lute Olson, John Chaney and a host of others, like Tubby Smith, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams and Gary Williams -- would love to have them on their team. They would be our ultimate dream team because they represent all the characteristics the aforementioned coaches and yours truly would love to see in every athlete.
They have superb discipline, dedication and desire. They are
also unselfish, not greedy and thinking of me, me, me. It is all about
team, baby, the best one of all, the USA, red, white and blue.
From the moment my wife and I were greeted by Lt. Col. David Cohen and other personnel, including Wendy Foster and Rachel Andreas, we could feel the passion and the pride they had. Every time Cohen opened his mouth, his heart poured out about the love of the people under his command.
The tour of the base included a view of a KC-135 plane where they showed us how they supply fuel to fighter planes in battle. It was absolutely amazing.
One of the highlights came when I shared a moment with Gen. John Abizaid, the head of central command, and Gen. Norty Schwartz, who is in charge of transportation. That means he has a great deal of accountability and responsibility.
It was so special to talk with Gen. Abizaid. Sitting at the coffee table, sharing moments with the generals and hearing of the love for his people. Abizaid recently went to Walter Reed hospital to visit with a number of service members who suffered serious injuries. Several lost limbs, one was blinded; yet all were concerned about their fellow troops and when they could go back to battle for their units.
Talk about dedication; I was choked up big-time! I was proud to receive hugs from the hundreds there. It felt so good, being with people who bring so much pride to our nation.
They are the reason we enjoy the freedoms we have. I told them how much we pray for them and that we think of them often. They are genuine heroes.
To me, a hero is not an athlete who runs, jumps, shoots a basketball, hits a baseball, catches a football, etc. Heroes are people like them, putting their life on the line for their fellow man. There is no other way to label them other than courageous.
We admire and respect the talent of an athlete, but they are not heroic like the men and women going into battle.
It was a day I will always treasure. I have the opportunity to speak with many different groups -- at coaching clinics, Hall of Fame ceremonies, etc. -- and I have been blessed. Over the last 10 years with the Washington Speakers Bureau, I have enjoyed the opportunity to travel and meet so many special individuals. The moment I had standing in front of our troops put goose bumps through my body. Then, when I received a special rare coin from the generals, it made me very proud.
Now I really understand the feelings Jay Bilas, Tom Izzo, Mark Gottfried, Kelvin Sampson, Bobby Cremins and other coaches shared on their recent trip abroad.
I was proud to represent ESPN and all of the people I work with. I wanted the troops to know we love them, admire them and respect them."
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