This article was co-authored by Michelle Baumann and Pete Hitzeman.
It has become tradition for CrossFit communities to gather each Memorial Day and complete a grueling workout called “Murph.” It is arguably the most famous hero WOD and consists of 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, and 300 squats sandwiched between a pair of one-mile runs.
The intention of hero workouts is to remember those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. “Murph” is named after Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy. Murph was a SEAL who was killed June 28, 2005 during a fierce firefight that ensued after a botched operation in Kunar province, Afghanistan. Though he was already wounded, Lt. Murphy moved to open terrain to call for evacuation, while continuing to return fire on the enemy until he was mortally wounded. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
The men and women to whom these boots belonged deserve more than sweat and high-fives once a year. [Photo courtesy of Pete Hitzeman]
To Honor the Fallen, Take Action
The workout named in honor of Lt. Murphy, along with all other hero WODs, should be so much more than a precursor to drinking beers on a Monday afternoon. These men and women gave all of their tomorrows so we can enjoy our today. When you approach squat number 237 with legs on fire and chest heaving, are you thinking about those fallen warriors? Or are you simply doing the workout because you’re a CrossFitter, and it’s just what you do on Memorial Day?
Remembering them is good, but action is better.
If you want to truly honor the fallen, take care of their surviving brothers and sisters. Millions of veterans suffer from mental health issues that permeate every aspect of their lives. The suicide rate among veterans is 50 percent higher than the general population. It is estimated that 20 percent of the 1.3 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression.
Organizations across the country work tirelessly to develop and sustain programs that support the needs of our veterans. They battle every day for those who suffer in silence. This Memorial Day, my community at CrossFit Evviva is taking action by collecting pledges for “Murph” to make every rep count for a local non-profit, American Hero Adventures.
“The greatest way to honor the fallen is to pick up the mantle of selflessness and carry it forward.”
-Rodger Deevers, USAF Veteran, CrossFit Evviva.
How You Can Help
Action doesn’t have to take a monetary form. Take a look at your community. Chances are you already know people who have served, and the possibility that they battle demons is very real. Reach out. Find out if they’re struggling, psychologically or otherwise. You may not be able to identify with their experiences (and don’t pretend you can), but you can let them know they aren’t alone, and that you are aware and you genuinely want to help.
If you don’t know anyone who has served, seek out and volunteer with one of the more than 20,000 organizations that support soldiers, veteran, and military families across the country. You can support troops and veterans by packing care packages, volunteering at a local VA hospital, or working with a local military nonprofit. There is work to do in your home town, but it’s up to you to find it. When you do, rally your CrossFit buddies to go with you.
Through awareness, education, and action, we have the power to turn simple bodyweight movements on Memorial Day into a vehicle for change. “Honor” is a transitive verb. If you aren’t doing anything, you aren’t truly honoring our fallen.
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