Archives For Honor

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I hope you have all heard the beautiful melody with even more lovely lyrics, “Leader of the Band” by Dan Fogelberg at some point in your lifetime.

Fogelberg penned the song for his own dad, Lawrence, who was a musician, educator, and band leader. In Dan’s words about his paternal inspiration, “I was so gratified that I was able to give him that song before he passed on. In his final years he was interviewed many times by the national press because of it. He went out in a blaze of glory, which meant a lot to me and my family.”

My husband’s grandfather passed away in the early morning hours this past Father’s Day.

I can’t help but think of William (Buck) Woodard, aka “Poppy,” a role model for all who knew and loved him, when listening to these lyrics.

“His gentle means of sculpting souls took me years to understand… My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. I’m just a living legacy to the Leader of the Band.

Isn’t that how life and death traditionally unfold? We rush through life, attempting to keep pace with everything and everyone buzzing around us?

And then a loved one passes and it is as if God gently places a hand upon our shoulder to slow us down, to pause and reflect on those we love and the life we live. It is during this time of reflection when we soak in the magnitude of the people who have helped shape our lives for the better.

I was able to tell Poppy goodbye and he gave me the same comforting smile and hug he always extended to family and friends.

He was, and will remain, the Leader of our Band.

In loving memory of Buck Woodard

Written by Heidi Woodard

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Robin Williams c/o chicagoreader.com

Robin Williams c/o chicagoreader.com

The revelation of Robin Williams’ passing spread like wild fire through news and entertainment sites tonight. I imagine years from now people will remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned of the actor/comedian’s untimely death.

I was walking back to my van with my oldest after finishing up Back to School night at a new school and all I could think of was: I must show my kids his work. They’ve never seen an actor like him and I’m positive no one will compare to him in their lifetimes.

Dead Poets Society. Goodwill Hunting. Jumanji. Patch Adams. The list of classics goes on and on. I don’t have to dig deep into my mind to recall the imprint he singlehandedly left on my psyche. Those movie memories were as essential to my upbringing as my own real life experiences.

This one is truly irreplaceable. And I only laid witness to his public talents…I cannot imagine the demons that such an extraordinary actor possessed behind closed doors. He battled with alcohol, drugs, and loneliness yet still managed to make us smile and feel better about ourselves. As did Chris Farley. As did Michael Jackson. As did Amy Winehouse.

Each time a wildly popular celebrity shares their condolences via the Twitterverse or a rather insignificant blogger feels compelled to share their feelings much like I am doing now, I think about Williams’ friends, family, and fans having to reabsorb the shock of reality punching them in the gut time and time again. It’s hard to regain one’s breath while trying to defend against rapid fire punches from every angle.

Yet I feel compelled to tell every reader who stumbles upon this post that it’s ok to feel really sad and lost in response to losing a man we never really knew.

It’s ok to admit that there are days when you feel like you’re treading water in pitch blackness with no life jacket while ocean waves crash all around your head.

It’s ok to feel helpless as you watch someone you love transform into someone you can’t even recognize…to wonder if your days with them are numbered and beyond your control.

It’s ok to acknowledge that you are not perfect and, that despite all of your best efforts, you will never be enough.

It’s ok to not be able to force yourself to fall asleep, to turn off your brain, to numb yourself enough to forget and move on.

I’m here to tell you that I don’t even have to know you to know this: It’s NOT ok to give up.

Yes, this is selfish advice. I don’t have to have a degree in Psychology to know that I believe the world is a better place with you, in spite of all your self-perceived shortcomings and failures, in it.

I’ve written this before, but it’s worth sharing again:

Never do I diminish another person’s feelings nor judge a person who wrongly believes there is nothing left in them to give. If you are reading this and suffer a sense of despair, I beg you to consider those in your life who you impact every day. Do not discredit their need to have YOU in their lives.

If you think you need help, I’m asking you to contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Robin Williams offered himself up for our enjoyment and we collectively loved every minute of it. He then allegedly gave up on fighting a life that tormented him, resulting in our despair and disbelief.

Honor him and those who love you by saving yourself before it’s too late. Honor him by throwing someone else a life jacket who’s been treading water for far too long.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Baseball is a game of long-standing tradition. I firmly believe that no other sport has remained as true to its original form.

Prior to the last couple of years, I could confidently state that basketball players were flashier, football players were more obnoxious, and golfers were overly tailored. The good ol’ boys of baseball simply came out to play. They only needed their mitts, their caps, and a wooden bat.

Baseball player uniforms were as pure as the game.

The uniform arsenal typically consisted of a white jersey and a jersey of color. Pants were either solid or pinstripe. If players wanted to get super crazy, they might choose to slap on some eye black.

Perfect swing by Chipper Jones of the ATL Braves

Perfect swing by Chipper Jones of the ATL Braves, who is darn near perfect himself.

Chipper Jones in the navy uniform.

Chipper Jones in a navy Braves uniform. Man, I miss seeing this guy on the big screen.

Then something weird happened around the year 2000. As far as I can tell by my extensive online research (searching Google for 15 minutes), the San Diego Padres decided to up their long-standing tradition of supporting the armed forces by introducing camouflage jerseys on Military Opening Day.

Over the past decade, much to my dismay, the camo jerseys have multiplied faster than mogwais dipped in water. Kids, if you don’t understand this reference, do yourself a favor and watch Gremlins today.

I mean, seriously…They. Are. Everywhere. From the big leagues to the little leagues and at every level in between. They are worn by players and coaches alike.

I now find myself walking into the ballpark somewhat guarded, wondering if I’m going to be attacked by a barrage of paintballers when I least expect it.

Some uniforms are more obnoxious than others.

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Exhibit A: San Diego Padres pitcher in his camo/cow print-inspired garb.

The little guys who look up to the pros want to emulate their idols. Therefore, new this season, both of my own boys’ teams have included a camo jersey in their uniform arsenal.

The 12-year old in his camo jersey - preparing for battle on the ball field (eye roll).

Exhibit B: The 12-year old in his camo jersey – preparing for battle on the ball field (eye roll). The 10-year old’s jersey has yet to arrive.

While I realize the game is not about ME and my personal preferences – this is an ongoing lesson I am struggling to learn – I’d like to believe I’m not alone when I say that the only people who should don the camo style are those serving in the military or trying to hunt down defenseless animals.

One serviceman quoted on Paul Lukas’ website, Uni Watch: The Obsessive Study of Athletics Aesthetics, had this to say:

“I’ve been in the Army for a little over 12 years. I appreciate the thought and tribute behind teams wearing military-themed uniforms, but I have yet to see one that didn’t look horrible. I hate to criticize without providing a viable alternative, but I think they should find another, more aesthetically pleasing, way to express their patriotism.” — Jon Vieira

Jon, I respect both your service to our country and your common sense in general.

I plan to continue to add pictures of camo jerseys I see at youth ballparks on this site as the season progresses. If you like them, try to convince me why in the comment section. If you don’t like them and agree with me that they’re obnoxious, I’ll count your comment as a signature in my ongoing petition against this black mark on the history of baseball.

Written by Heidi Woodard