Tuesday, November 4, 2014

16 Minutes from Home

By MIDN 1/C Annie-Norah Beveridge

Throughout my time at the Naval Academy, our cross country course has changed to accommodate the building of the new commissary, Saturday morning golfers and worn-out terrain.  However, one landmark has remained an important part of the course.  As I rounded the corner into the home stretch of Saturday’s race against West Point, I was once again reminded of the ultimate sacrifice that many have paid in service to our nation. 

The Willie McCool memorial marker is located 16 minutes back from the finish line of the Navy cross country course where McCool ran his fastest time, 27:24 for five miles, an extremely impressive feat accomplished by the future astronaut and team captain who ranked #2 in his class.

“16 minutes from home” reads the inscription.  McCool, a pilot, was approximately 16 minutes from scheduled touchdown when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry.

Every time I pass by the Willie McCool memorial, I tell myself to pick up the pace.  When I put on my Navy cross country singlet, I know that I am representing something bigger than myself.  I am representing those who have come before me and running my fastest is the best way that I can honor them.  The cross country teams have a rich history and a long list of individuals who have gone on to make a difference in the world.  I hope that the runners from the Class of 2015, who were honored during a ceremony following the race, will continue in the tradition of selfless service.

For the women’s team, the Class of 2015 was the first class since 1996 to win all four Army-Navy duals.  This is no small achievement and the fact that eight first class midshipmen were honored on Saturday afternoon is a testament to the hard work and dedication that they have invested over the last four years.  The group, led by Coach Karen Boyle and Captain Paige Miller, has been the underpinning of team success.  As we part ways next year, it is important to remember that we are never far from home; that when we reach the top of the hill, we will find relief in a steep downhill and the sight of the finish line.  Like last Saturday, we will always be cheering for each other as we strive to make the world a better place.

“From our orbital vantage point, we observe an earth without borders, full of peace, beauty and magnificence, and we pray that humanity as a whole can imagine a borderless world as we see it and strive to live as one in peace.” 
 -William Cameron McCool, Naval Academy Class of 1983

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