What Does It Take To Achieve This Level of Strength?

I just finished watching HBO’s excellent mini-series, The Pacific.

"Iwo Jima Flag Raising"

Whenever I encounter documentaries about World War II, arguably the most brutal war the world has ever seen (or not seen as the case may be for many of us), I am incredibly moved by the strength of the men who volunteered to fight on the side of freedom against oppression and tyranny.

I ask myself, “What kind of man fights for an idea bigger than himself? What kind of man fights for others who can’t or won’t fight for themselves? Where does he get that kind of strength?”

I honestly don’t know. I’ve never had to give that type of strength or make that level of sacrifice.

I have never served in the military. I had a chance, and I turned it down.

My dad was career USAF. 26 and-a-half years. Both my grandfathers served in the Army during WWII.

After watching The Pacific and after seeing Band of Brothers, and Saving Private Ryan, I can’t imagine the brutality of war. Somehow, as good of a filmmaker as Steven Spielberg is, I think he captured only part of the carnage these men faced and therefore part of the strength they had to demonstrate. But thankfully he has so we who never knew can “remember.”

Three weeks from today is June 6th. It is the 66th anniversary of D-Day, or Operation Overlord, the Allied Invasion of Normandy. I have the opportunity and privilege to be able to not only visit the battlefields of Normandy, but to be there on the 6th to pay tribute to those who sacrificed on that day so we could be here today.

To those brave men and women who serve or have served in the United States Armed Forces – Thank you. Thank you for your strength.

36 comments… add one
  • Brandon May 17, 2010 @ 11:33


    Thanks for this, I feel the same way. I have a family history of service in the military. I haven’t served and I won’t ever be able to fully appreciate what that means, but I will remain thankful for what others have done.

    We don’t exist as islands, our freedom wasn’t developed in a vacuum. Real people fought and died for what many today take for granted.

    Have a great trip and say thank-you for us that can’t be there in person!


    • GEOFFN May 18, 2010 @ 14:58

      Will do, Brandon. Thanks for posting.

  • randy May 17, 2010 @ 11:35

    Come on Geoff, don’t sell yourself short.
    Your comment – “What kind of man fights for others who can’t or won’t fight for themselves? ” is why there are videos out there of people being mugged in broad daylight why people around them do nothing. Why would like to think you would have the strength to do something. Just because your not fighting half way around the world make it less noble.
    Just my humble opinion.

    • GEOFFN May 18, 2010 @ 14:59

      Randy – I’m not selling myself short. I just admire our servicemen for what they do.

      • randy May 19, 2010 @ 0:18

        Hey, nothing like missing the point of the article – huh? (That’s what I get for responding early in the morning.) I am in total agreement with you. To fight the good fight is one of the noblest things one can do. Words do not do justice to the admiration I feel for our servicemen and women.

        • GEOFFN May 19, 2010 @ 8:16

          No worries, Randy.

  • Russ Moon May 17, 2010 @ 11:52

    I present these thoughts only as my opinion, which I do not confuse as fact.

    I served as a US Army Paratrooper at Ft. Bragg for several years as an officer in the Signal Corps. There was plenty of danger in the training we did (jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, jets and helicoptors) and here is what I observed.

    Faith – our soldiers have faith in the United States and what it stands for and they come to appreciate our freedoms more as they train hard to defend them, they realize what is at stake (freedom) and they are willing to lay their lives down or put them at risk to protect that.

    Trust in their Team – the training really creates a bond and the more severe the training the more tightly knit the group becomes, you come to trust that your fellow soldier has your back and they will protect you ….you also know that you are expected to do the same for them.

    I think of this often, people lay down their lives in remote places and as a result I can do what I want, basically when I want, I can walk around drinking my espresso without fear…here it is normal other places not so much.

    • GEOFFN May 18, 2010 @ 15:00

      Russ – Thank you for your service. And for your insights.

  • Beverly Tucker May 17, 2010 @ 12:10

    Thanks Geoff for helping to keep the memory of what the soldiers, their family members and the country did to provide us with the freedoms we all-too-often take for granted in 2010.

    I have the privilege of serving as the Secretary of the 446th Bomb Group, “the D-Day Leaders” (www.446bg.com). Last week we met in Reno for our 24th annual reunion – and at every reunion, I am struck with the fervor for life, faith, friendship and love of the USA demonstrated by the vets, their families and all others in attendance. I am humbled by these veterans and cherish the days we spend together, hearing stories of their training, flights, life in the barracks in England and their return home.

    Have a wonderful time in Normandy next month touching history.

    • GEOFFN May 18, 2010 @ 15:00

      Bev – Thanks for ALL that you do!

  • Kevin Greene May 17, 2010 @ 13:01

    Hello Geoff,

    The strength you talk about is amazing and comes in many forms. People like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. also had this strength.

    I am taking off to Kenya to help people in extreme poverty to improve their lives by getting them clean water and helping them to start entrepreneurial ventures through restoring their land instead of cutting down their trees to make and sell charcoal.

    An amazing example of a person who is already doing such work is a US Marines Platoon Commander named Jake Harriman.

    Below is a link to a video of Jake telling his story about his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and how he chose to start an organization (Nuru International) to bring an end to extreme poverty because he sees this as the only way to end terrorism. This man has real strength!!! I hope to work with him someday.


    Nuru International

    You asked how to build this type of strength, here is one way.

    Look deep inside yourself and find your values. Ask yourself, what are the things that every person deserves, how does the planet deserve to be treated, what do the future generations deserve to inherit from us?

    Then, ask yourself, what can I do to contribute?

    When you take on a cause greater than yourself, you become a greater person.

    I suggest that everyone take some time to figure out how they want to contribute to making this world a better place. Figure out something you have a great passion for and then go out there and make consistent efforts. Over time, you and the world will both improve.

    • GEOFFN May 18, 2010 @ 15:03

      Kevin – I agree with you. It comes in many forms. But not all of us have the same values – just look around. Those values must be connected in some way to the Truth. If we are not connected in some way to the Truth, then we look for what we can take, rather than what we can give. Giving is Strength.

  • Diana May 17, 2010 @ 13:17

    I’ve done research on my family genealogy and have a few relatives that fought in the Civil War. I’ve gotten hand written letters from these relatives through the national archives in Wash. DC. To read their words are truly awe-inspiring to say the very least. These soldiers, as all soldiers of any war, went through absolute hell. I too have seen Band Of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, Gettysburg, etc….I am moved by the mind set soldiers have. To risk “life for liberty” is something I can be ever so thankful for to each and every one of them.
    I’ve been now watching on the History Channel a series called; “America, a story of us.” A truly fascinating series as well. This country was built from the blood and guts of our forefathers through the Revolutionary War up till present day. If you haven’t seen any of this series, I recommend it. It’s on every Sunday night at 8pm CST.
    Nice post-we need to remember our fallen and those still fighting for our liberties!
    On a side note…….
    I’m attending the RKC in St. Paul next month-looking forward to it, perhaps our paths will cross at some point during the 3 days!

    • GEOFFN May 18, 2010 @ 15:04

      Diana – Thanks for stopping by. I missed that series – I hope it’s still on. I’ll be in Denmark for the RKC but not St Paul. Enjoy yourself!

  • betsy collie May 17, 2010 @ 13:48

    Justr returned from France where my father in law and his fellow vets of the 100th Infantry Division celebrated France’s liberation along with the citizens of France. Normandy and the small towns of Bitche, Rimling, and Lemberg where my father in law fought were amazing! Jump over to my blog http://www.kettlebell.blogspot.com for more details about their celebration.

    It was a most humbling experience to watch these men relive their experience of fighting in WWII and how grateful the French are for our collaboration with them.

    • GEOFFN May 18, 2010 @ 15:04

      Betsy – Glad you had a good time.

  • betsy collie May 17, 2010 @ 14:13


  • pjnoir May 17, 2010 @ 23:03

    Believe me- ALL wars are tough. And many in WWII joined with no higher ideal or morals involved since we didn’t really know our enemy til after the war ended. Movies are never like the real thing

  • Shane Hylton May 18, 2010 @ 10:52


    My hat is off to you sir! My sentiments are the same. I have the privaledge of having my father, grand father, my wife’s grand father and her to great uncle’s, one of which is still MIA, all being WWII vets. Every year I observe pearl harbor day, memorial day, D-Day, veterans day and even armed forces day. For me these days are my connection to the wonderful men that have come before me. To observe these days and enjoy them are my way of remembering who they are and what they stood for. I have never served in the military, I could not pass the medical, yet I do train soldiers in the martial arts. To see these young kids go off to war and come back changed is not an easy thing. Thankfully I have not had to bury one and hopefully will not ever have to do that. You asked where does this strength come from? We all have it, it is strength of character. Some of the posts before me have shown this, soldiers who start organizations to help, missionaries that do the same. It is the character of our country. We can focus and the people who do nothing and complain all the time. Or we can help the ones making a difference. That is where we will find that same strength our forefathers have. To be a samurai means “to serve”. How many people can we inspire to be a modern samurai, soldier or missionary? The only way to do this is to lead by example! So let us blow the bugle and lead the charge from the front, the same way our father’s and grandfather’s led the way. By being men of character and service.


    • GEOFFN May 18, 2010 @ 15:05

      Right on, IMHO, Shane!

  • Luis M. Cadiz May 18, 2010 @ 22:43

    I have this little pocket dictionary next to the computer and I looked up the definition of strength. The words that caught my attention the most were: capacity of doing, moving, resisting, etc, through action of muscles;toughness, hardness or solidity of structure or material. The first part is directed towards physical strength… raw muscle power! The second part is about structural strength, such as a building for example. No matter what training is available… Freddie Roach can train me, doesn’t make me Manny Pacquiao… I would need the physical muscle strength to get through the rigors of training, but I would need the mental and spiritual fortitude to complete the package… the inner material to build an invincible man structure. They may not have had 22 inch Lou Ferigno arms, but their chests couldn’t contain the hearts that these men had… and have today. Kind of preachy I know, I kind of get that way late at night. Have a great trip and experience on your tour of duty.

    Good night and God Bless

    Luis and Familia
    Cadiz Clan & House of Pain

    • GEOFFN May 19, 2010 @ 8:17

      Luis – I think Mike said it best – that kind of strength comes from love, in many cases an “other-worldly” kind of love…

  • mike May 19, 2010 @ 2:34

    I work at a VA hospital and I have seen a whole generation of people disappear. The WWII folks have come and gone, and many were my friends. I have seen people with concentration camp tatoos on their arms; have heard first hand of a brother watching his brother bayoneted on the Bataan death march because he stumbled. Korean vets, Vietnam vets, Iraq and Afgan. vets, I get to see them all. ( I am a desert storm vet) These people did it out of LOVE–not the crap you hear and see on tv and etc. it has become a word abused in todays society. This love caused them to lay down their lives. True Love is a sacrifice that does not want for itself. The WWII and the others I get to talk to don’t like to talk of what they saw or did for the most part but they did it. They are heroes but most shy away from it. I have seen the cost many have paid so I can sleep free and for some it is a very high cost. For some it is physical and others mental/emotional.

    So the question comes to mind: What is it that you LOVE?

    “The greatest love you have for your friends is to give your life for them” John 15:13 Good News Translation

    • GEOFFN May 19, 2010 @ 8:16

      Mike – Thanks for taking care of our Veterans. Funny, as I read your post I was thinking of “Greater love has no man…” and then I see the bottom of your post! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Russ Moon May 21, 2010 @ 20:24

    May 17 500 1 arm swing w 24 kg
    May 18 TGU Full Repeater 2 cycles with 24kg each arm
    May 19 Dual Press 24kg 185 total reps sets of 10 or 5 w snatch to start
    Supersetted with pull downs
    May 20 Goblet Squats 16 kg X 30
    24kg X 60 total reps
    32 kg X 60 total reps
    40kg X 30 total reps
    Supersetted with pull downs
    May 21 Deadlift Dual 40 kg 115 total reps sets of 20 or 15
    Supersetted with pavelizer 2 Janda Sit-ups
    1 arm clean 40 kg 40 total reps
    1 arm clean Beast 6 total reps
    Dual clean 32kg 10 reps

  • Russ Moon May 26, 2010 @ 18:45

    TGU Repeater w 24 kg 3 cycles each side.

  • Russ Moon May 27, 2010 @ 18:43

    Dual Press 24kg + dual snatch to start Reps Rounds 15:15 Reps
    5 5 25
    5 5 25
    5 5 25
    5 5 25
    5 5 25
    5 5 25
    5 3 21
    10 1 10

  • Russ Moon May 28, 2010 @ 17:58

    Goblet Squat 16 kg 1 35 35
    32 kg 3 20 60
    40 kg 3 11 33
    48kg 1 10 10
    dual 24’s 3 10 30
    1 8 8
    1 5 5
    181 Total Reps same but weight went up.

  • Russ Moon May 30, 2010 @ 23:16

    SSST – 221 reps w 24kg 10 :00 Minutes

  • Russ Moon Jun 1, 2010 @ 23:28

    5-31 2 arm swing Beast 26 cycles of 15:15
    6-1 2 arm swing Bulldog 350 reps

  • Russ Moon Jun 2, 2010 @ 17:57

    6-2 500 5 x 100 2 arm swing w 24 kg
    1 x 25 dual swings w 24kg

  • Russ Moon Jun 3, 2010 @ 16:36


    1 rep with 32 kg

    2 reps per arm snatching 44kg, then reversing the TGU back to the start position.

    16 kg 20 press to elbow each side
    24 kg 10 press to elbow each side

  • Russ Moon Jun 4, 2010 @ 18:21

    100 reps of dual 40kg deadlifts supersetted with ladders of 1,2,3 heavy pulldowns, (palm up, palm down) doing the weak link thing hating it, but I’ll be loving it when I can knock out the chins like push-ups. Always some humility right around….the next set. LOL

  • Russ Moon Jun 7, 2010 @ 15:15

    Goblet Squat 24kg 1 30 30
    32 kg 1 25 25
    40 kg 1 11 11
    40kg 1 6 6
    40 kg 1 7 7
    40kg 1 6 6
    40kg 1 6 6
    40kg 1 7 7
    40kg 1 4 4
    102 Total Reps
    Biking and an appointment with the chin-up bar tonight.

  • Nicholas Wind Jun 9, 2010 @ 11:44

    Great post Geoff.
    I am a 54 year young baby boomer in Toronto Canada.
    I love my kettle bell and will become certified once
    my online business get’s me out of my seasonal job.
    This should be my last year.
    There are a few things I need to overcome better.
    Recovery is one…since I’m not in my 20’s any more.
    That’s why I follow your great info.
    You are way beyond me in knowledge
    so I figure learn from the best.

    As far as your post about our soldiers these
    guys are awesome and I have incredible
    respect for them.
    If one puts them down in front of me I’ll get pissed
    and defend them.
    I’ve not served but my Uncle
    fought in WW2 and my cousin a paratrooper
    here in Canada.
    We live right near “The Highway of Heros”
    so we do walk up and pay respects to our
    Canadian hereos.
    I say reverse the pay of our politicians
    and soldiers. Including bennefits.
    I know that won’t happen but it should in my mind.
    Til next time I’ll keep learning from yourself
    and others.

    • GEOFFN Jun 9, 2010 @ 11:46

      Amen to that on reversing the pay, Nicholas! I went to Normandy last weekend and it was mind-blowing.

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