The Para-What? (Updated)
The 2012 U.S. and Great Britain Paralympics basketball teams show sportsmanship following their final opportunity to scrimmage at the University of East London before the start of Paralympics game play in London, England, Aug. 29.
–Scroll down for some great words by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff–
I have seen very little coverage of the 2012 London Paralympics by the main U.S. media.
I know, the Republican National Convention, hurricane Isaac — for some sports fans, the U.S. Open — and having just “recovered” from 17 days of Summer Olympics, are all contributing factors to our, shall we say, lack of interest for what are some of the most inspirational achievements by competitors in the ongoing London Paralympic Games. Games that “include people who are amputees, blind or visually impaired, paralyzed or in a wheelchair, dealing with traumatic brain injuries or are mentally impaired.”
The opening ceremonies for the 2012 Paralympics took place yesterday.
While most of us were watching “other events,” almost 8 million viewers around the world watched the opening ceremonies which were attended by Queen Elizabeth — sans parachute — British Prime Minister David Cameron, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, Mayor Boris Johnson and, of course, the huge fans of the Summer Olympics, Prince William and Kate Middleton.
The opening ceremony included, in addition to the traditional fireworks and aerial acrobatics, a welcome from theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking, “exploring the theme of Enlightment.”
TIME Magazine has some great photos from the opening ceremonies.
A U.S. delegation led by Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in London ahead of the opening ceremonies and visited the Paralympic athletes.
Kareem Dale, who is blind and is special assistant to President Obama for disability policy, said, “The biggest thing that we’re doing is we’re here to support our athletes. The president and the entire administration are behind them, rooting for them and cheering them on.”
Twenty veterans and active duty service members are part of the 227 U.S. Paralympians competing in London. We will try to keep you posted on their achievements.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, far left, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to the U.S. Paralympic Committee and its sponsors in London., Aug. 30, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, today honored the legacy of the U.S. Paralympics and expressed his gratitude to the supporters of wounded warriors and disabled veterans. He also had an interesting story about two World War I women doctors.
Here is the article written by by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.in the American Forces Press Service:
The venue was Great Britain’s historic Hospital Club, the site of the first hospital established by women to aid wounded service members during the first world war. There, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey joined the U.S. Paralympics Committee and several of its sponsors to celebrate the legacy of Paralympics.
“There’s a bit of history that you all are more familiar with then I was initially,” he said. “As you know, in World War I, women doctors ? Doctors Flora Murray and Louisa Garret Anderson ? wanted to start a hospital for the wounded.”
“But, because they were women, they couldn’t do it,” Dempsey explained. “The British government wouldn’t recognize them. I don’t think any government would have at that time. It was long before women had achieved their rightful status in society.”
The chairman said the two women were not deterred and went to France and successfully established a hospital.
“It worked so well that the British government brought them back,” Dempsey said. “And in this building, they set up a 550-bed hospital to care for the wounded in that tragic war.”
The general described Murray and Anderson as pioneers, groundbreakers, innovators and agents of change.
“They were people that wanted to make a difference, and that’s who you all are, by the way,” Dempsey told the audience. “[Yes], that’s what the Paralympics Committee [is]. You’re pioneers, you’re change agents, [and] you’re difference makers in people’s lives.”
“For that, I couldn’t tell you how proud we are to be here today to see that,” he added.
Dempsey also made clear that wounded warriors, disabled veterans and the military were honored to be involved with their supporters and the Paralympics.
“One of the things I’m going to tell you ? you’ve got to stop thanking us for being here,” the general said. “People are very kind about that. They’ll say ‘we’re so honored to have you here.’ And I’m thinking to myself ‘no, no you’ve got it backwards.’ I was honored to be asked to lead the delegation and to have the privilege, really, of getting to meet you, those of you that enable and empower these incredible young people to do everything they can do to live their lives,” he said. “Not against their disability, but to their ability. And that’s a distinction I think is incredibly important ? one that we all ought to learn from.”
The chairman also pointed out how meaningful it is to him to have wounded warriors taking part in this event.
“[There are] 225 or so athletes, 20 of them, I’m very proud to say, are wounded warriors, veterans in the armed forces of the United States,” Dempsey said. “I think that it’s a match made in heaven. Sadly, we continue to have additional members added to the rolls of wounded warriors. But having something like this, and a partnership that … can actually inspire them is just terrific.”
“[The] inspiration that those physically disabled, but not unable, young men and women demonstrated out there is just extraordinary,” he said. “It is one of those places that you come across in your life where you say ‘you know, it really doesn’t matter who wins, because their all winners.'”