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Rev Up: "Semper Fidelis"

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev Up. I woke up today to hear the rain beating against my window for the third morning in a row. I'm one of those people that is affected by the weather a great deal. Maybe it's my selfish nature, but I struggle to smile through cold, rainy days. I was just complaining about it to a friend this morning when he basically told me to harden the hell up and get over it. Then, like I do every Thursday morning, I sat down to write The Rev. There is a neverending kaleidoscope of moto stories in my head to pull from, but every now and then a date jumps off the calender and really hits home.

  • Veteran’s Park in Emporia, Kansas
Yesterday, November the 11th, was Veteran’s Day. That holiday hits close to home to me for a variety of reasons. For starters, my hometown of Emporia, Kansas, is credited as the site of the first ever Veteran’s Day parade after an Emporia man named Al King lobbied to expand on the existing Armistice Day holiday. President Dwight D. Eisenhower passed the act in 1954, and since then it's been Veteran’s Day. The baseball diamond where I played little league sat directly across from Veteran’s Park in Emporia. I remember daydreaming in the outfield, staring over at the Vietnam War helicopter and WWII tank that sat under the giant American Flag and memorial plaque. It wasn't until later in my life that I began to develop a vested interest in WWII and only recently have I gained a full appreciation as to why I had such a strong pull towards that particular conflict.

My Grandpa, Dale Bowyer, was an officer in the army in WWII. He passed before I was born and my Dad told me a lot about him but was always sensitive about it. In 2004, my Uncle Steve presented me with a stack of letters that Dale had written my grandma while he was fighting in the war. I was astonished to discover the way he described places and events. Whatever writing talent I may have came from my grandpa. Dale had been sloshing through a cold and snowy winter in France when his company came under fire from a German heavy machine gun. They were trapped in a minefield, held down by tremendous enemy fire. He had been struck, but still rallied his boys to fight on. Because of my Grandpa's steadfast charge, his boys were able to overcome the attack and capture the position. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, and although he lost a leg below the knee because of his wound, he came home a hero.

Two winters ago, Davey Coombs took me to The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. That's when all of it fully hit me.

Semper Fidelis means, "Always Faithful."

  • The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
On July 7th, 2007 at Daytona International Speedway they concluded the National Anthem with a jet fly over. Holding the stick of one of the F-15C Eagle fighter jets was Captain Chad James. Chad and I were members of the graduating class of Emporia Spartans in 1995. Later that evening, a driver from Emporia, Kansas, and his #07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet led the charge for 57 laps before finishing 7th. Chad James has since been promoted to a higher rank and is currently based in Okinawa with his family. His codename is classified and he flies with no patches or markings on his flight suit. He's a bad dude, to say the least. I consider him the pride of Emporia, Kansas.

I've always held a special notion of pride for my hometown. For a racer, you can hear no better words than hearing your name and hometown called out when you go to pick up your trophy on the stage at Loretta Lynn's. I'll never forget hearing Tim Cotter say, "And your class champion from Emporia, Kansas, Andy Bowyer." I raced my motorcycle for the first time in six years last Saturday night in East Bend, North Carolina. I haven't lived there in over 15 years, but I listed Emporia as my hometown and when I handed the sign-up lady my entry form she raised an eyebrow at me... I just smiled back.

With all of this said, I was ashamed of myself for bitching about the rain to my friend today. I thought about how tough this week has been for those affected by the awful tragedy last week in Ft. Hood, Texas. I thought about the immeasurable courage all of the Veterans put forth to allow us to live in the paradise we do today. We are all so very lucky that those men and women were a hell of a lot tougher then we are. We are most fortunate to still have people willing to put forth the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to sustain our way of life. 

I'll always be faithful to my family, my hometown and the sport of motocross. From my grandpa refusing to give up, to my mother and father driving my brothers and I across the country racing motocross, it has somehow landed me here at my laptop writing to you this Thursday. Always be faithful. Live with passion and verve and never give up. Ever! 

Semper Fidelis.

Thanks for reading, see you next week.
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