Monday, May 9, 2016, evening Ann and I attended Opening Ceremonies of the Invictus Games at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando. It was the best sports event I have ever attended.
If you don’t know what the Invictus Games are, they are bringing together 550 wounded warriors from 14 countries to compete in adaptive sports events. These are men and women who lost some physical abilities as a result of their defending their countries.
These are real life heroes who have overcome unbelievable odds to be able to use the power sport to bring people together. It was the inspiration of Prince Harry. Speaking at the games last night were Prince Harry, Michelle Obama, Morgan Freeman and former President George W. Bush. There was plenty of entertainment from the famous including James Blunt to the lesser-known choir made up of wounded ex-serviceman from the UK and the US Armed Forces who performed a haunting and moving song that they wrote called “Flesh and Blood.”
I have been to many sports events where there was a flyover of jets but when the three jets flew over this packed stadium it had a whole different meaning because of who these athletes were. A helicopter with war hero, Sergeant August O’Neil, flew the Invictus Flag near to the stadium. Suspended by ropes from the helicopter, O’Neil came down to the ground and entered the stadium with his dog Kai.
Everything was so touching including the appeals of the sponsors, the Disney Company which employs 6,000 veterans and Jaguar, which also employs many veterans. The backdrop was all the former soldiers who have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or severe depression. Unable to deal with these mental challenges, 22 veterans take their own lives every day.
The word Invictus means “unbroken” and “invincible.” The 550 wounded warrior athletes represent hope because they are unbroken and have a human spirit that is invincible. What an honor and privilege to have them in Orlando.