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Teacher reflects on the importance of sports and sacrifices

o the editor:

Sixty years ago this month, I began my life in organized sports as a member of Isaly’s Little League team in Leetonia. Since that time, I have played, coached, refereed, announced, watched, broadcast and cheered for our kids and grandkids. I love sports. They are a big part of my life. So as you can imagine, I am really missing them in this time of pandemic.

As a teacher for 47 years, I also know the importance sports play as part of the academic process. Having been a junior class advisor for my fair share of years, I know how important prom is. Of course, the list of memorable moments we have in high school is endless.

So the position high school students find themselves in today is very difficult, one we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. As I read the article in the Morning Journal about the athletes who are missing their spring season, and perhaps even more, I am filled with empathy. To all of those students missing spring activities, especially those who are seniors, I am so sorry for what you are enduring.

It might be of some help to reflect on some history. I was always told by my teachers the reason we learn history is so we don’t repeat our mistakes. I always accepted that point even to learning that Hannibal rode the elephants over the Alps. I haven’t used that bit of information yet, but maybe someday I will be on Jeopardy and it will help me out.

Recently, it dawned on me that another reason for learning history is so we can emulate those times when our ancestors reached out and sacrificed their wishes for the greater good. ‘The Greatest Generation,’ a moniker made famous by Tom Brokaw in his book of the same name, refers to those men and women who put their lives and careers on hold to serve the United States during World War II.

Probably Leetonia’s greatest high school football coach, Charles Mather, left his coaching and teaching position days after the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor to join the Coast Guard and fight the enemy. Countless others did the same and many young men still in high school immediately left school and joined the military. Graduation, college, marriage– everything was put on hold to fight the war. Happily, in recent years, many school districts have awarded high school diplomas to those who chose the path of serving our country.

Our President has declared our current situation “a war against the unseen enemy.” If we think of the contributions we are all making today in those terms, hopefully it gives us some solace that we are doing our part to conquer this terrible opponent.

Perhaps the most famous quote of President John F. Kennedy is good to reflect on now.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” — from his inaugural address on January 20, 1961

I would just like to close with this wish. I hope this war we have been fighting is soon over, that we are victorious, and that we can all look back knowing we did what we could to help our fellow citizens.

And, of course, best wishes to the Class of 2020.

Glen Windram,

Leetonia

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