The Bus Ride
My son Michael, my 9-year-old grandson Benson and I, had the privilege and honor of attending the 2023 Army-Navy football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The “privilege,” was the fact that we were fortunate enough to attend such a hallowed event. The “honor,” was the fact that we attended the game with Gold Star families who are part of the “Legacies Alive” organization.
The mission of Legacies Alive, as taken directly from their website is as follows:
The mission of Legacies Alive is to strengthen and support the Gold Star families of our nation’s fallen heroes and to bring national awareness to the life and character of all service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Founded by combat veterans, we feel a special connection with these families and are deeply committed to our cause. We accomplish our mission by providing unwavering support to Gold Star families and by ensuring the legacies of our fallen heroes are forever alive.
The best word I can use to describe the experiences we had over this weekend is, “Humbling.”
I wish every American could have spent just a few minutes with us as we listened to a Gold Star Mother softly explain that, unless someone has personally experienced the loss that she and her husband have, they cannot say that they “understand” the feelings and emotions that fill their lives every day. She could not thank Legacies Alive enough for helping them cope with this by uniting them with other families who have experienced the same kind of loss and truly do understand.
I wish every American could have been with us in the Bell In Hand Tavern, the night before the game, to experience the comradery of the Gold Star families and listen to the genuinely inspiring words and deeply emotional song of guest speaker, retired Army Ranger and singer, Keni Thomas.
I wish every American could have experienced the dynamic Fan Fest outside the stadium. There, a monumental presentation of weapons, equipment, technology, and physical training of the United States military was on full interactive display.
I wish every American could have been inside the stadium to witness the spectacular flyovers of Navy Jets and Army Helicopters; the highly coordinated and precise jumps of Army and Navy parachute teams; the fiercely competitive enthusiasm of the Midshipmen and Cadets; the unabashed patriotism of the fans and the intense drama of the end of the game itself.
But, most of all, I wish every American could have experienced the bus ride to the game.
Legacies Alive provided three huge coach buses for transportation to the game for the Gold Star families and supporters. We were on the first bus and found seats about halfway back. As the bus filled, I noticed that just about every age group from several months old to 80 was represented. The other thing I noticed was how quiet it was on the bus. Everyone appeared to be speaking in hushed tones, and the energy level was low and somewhat subdued.
When the other two buses were fully loaded, we departed as a group. I didn’t notice it at first, but a Boston City Police car was in front of our bus. Its blue lights lit up and started to flash as we began to move. The police car remained in front of us and, as we approached traffic lights, sounded its siren to stop the cross traffic. We proceeded, uninterrupted, through downtown Boston, with a fullblown police escort.
As more people on the bus became aware of the police escort, the whole atmosphere started to change. People started to speak a little louder and became more excited as they looked out the windows and saw what was happening.
When we left the Boston city limits, we had several police cars escorting us and running interference as we traveled down the highway. They kept cars from getting between the buses, safely secured the off and on ramps, and allowed us to travel as a group. When we were several miles from Gillette Stadium the two lanes of traffic ahead of us were at a side-by-side standstill. That is when the magic happened.
A second police car pulled ahead of the one in front of us, put on its lights and siren, and started to drive directly between the two lanes of stopped cars. As it slowly moved along, the cars in each lane pulled over to the side of the road, and the buses drove right down the middle of the road. When the people on our bus saw this happening, they became ecstatic, and some began cheering loudly.
As we traveled down the middle of the road, some of the people in the cars that had pulled over began to honk their horns and wave at the buses. At first, I thought they were angry. But it quickly became quite evident that they were happy and cheering us on. People walking along the side of the road also started cheering, waving, and giving thumbs-up to the buses.
As I looked around at the faces of the people on the bus, I saw joy, excitement, and happiness. But most of all, I saw pride. Everyone was sitting taller and had their head up. I felt the radiation of a tremendously positive energy that was not present when we were sitting in Boston. It was clear that these Gold Star families were finally beginning to feel some of the long overdue respect they so rightly deserve.
I told and Co-founder of Legacies Alive, Mark Faldowski, as well as his brother, Board Member and Director of Operations, DJ Faldowski that, of all the wonderfully magnificent things I witnessed over the weekend, including the Army-Navy game itself, none could compare to the emotional experience of that bus ride. It is a memory I will humbly carry with me for the rest of my life.
Respectfully, Andrew J. Lucas, DC
Shelter Fitness is proud to call itself a supporter of the Legacies Alive family. We will continue to do what we can to ensure the ongoing success of their mission and help foster the growth of the organization
I am currently retired and no longer a practicing Chiropractor, nor do I hold a current professional license in the medical field. The information presented is solely based on my experiences as a professional and for informational purposes only. Please consult with your physician prior to any new or changing fitness endeavors. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities promoted by this site.
Author Bio - Dr. Andrew J. Lucas
Practiced for more than 30 years as a Chiropractor in Washington, Pennsylvania, specializing in the treatment of both acute and chronic musculoskeletal disorders.
Graduated from Waynesburg College (now Waynesburg University) in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
Graduated in 1985 from the National College of Chiropractic (now National University of Health Sciences) with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology.
In 1989 he successfully completed the Diplomate program for Orthopedics through the postgraduate division of the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic.