It’s Fleet Week in New York. And as you all know, we just celebrated Memorial Day weekend. Both events remind us of the commitment of so many men and women to our nation through military service. We often think of words like “courage” and “bravery” when we describe our Armed Forces and rightfully so. I want to propose that we extend these labels of “courage” and “bravery” to include the millions of young people who choose to spend a year serving our communities at home. Whether a young adult chooses to join the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines, or the ranks of national service at home, they are all undertaking the same commendable decision: the choice to serve this country.
Every week, I see and hear the stories of Coach Across America coaches who are taking a year off of their lives to inspire low-income youth by providing them safe and supervised sports activities. Often, they are doing this service with few resources, little financial support and in high crime communities that pose a risk to their own safety. Like the military, we expect our Coach Across America members to abide by a code of discipline, to be role models, and to impact the communities that they serve in positive ways. As AmeriCorps members, we expect that their presence will help to bring down crime, to improve public schools, to create a healthier population and to inspire local residents in ways that can lead to their long-term community development and success.
The Coach Across America uniform is a badge of honor and those who choose to serve with this badge in the 120 communities across America deserve our praise and recognition. On national holidays like this one, let us always be grateful to the fact that we are a stronger nation because of our men and women in uniform…even when that uniform includes a whistle.
I would like to acknowledge the afternoon I spent with the legendary sports writer, Rick Telander, whose appreciation of the role of dedicated coaches and our dedicated military inspired this blog.
Paul Caccamo Executive Director