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Oklahoma Joe: Support the one who are true heroes

From the 2012-2014 Warrior Games, according to “Homes for the Troops,” McDaniel won 12 gold ... Joe Hight is a Pulitzer Prize-winning and Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame editor who is the journalism ethics chair at the University of Central Oklahoma ...

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By: Joe Hight Columnist February 12, 2018 0 Joe Hight The Winter Olympics kicked off last week in a most fascinating place: South Korea. As I watch from far away, I’ll think about Ho Dae Lee, a former student featured in a past “Oklahoma Joe” and now in the South Korean militaryI’ll be interested to watch the U.Sand Korean athletes, especially considering the current nuclear tensions. I’ll also remember an event nearly five years ago in Colorado Springs. Prince Harry came to the home of the U.SOlympic Committee and Olympic Training Center in May 2013 for the Warrior GamesThe Paralympic-type event is for wounded service members and started in 2010 in Colorado Springs as a partnership between the Olympic Committee, the Department of Defense and USOAfter being in Chicago last year, according to Military Times, the Warrior Games will return to Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy this June. At 28 in 2013, the youngest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana was considered among the world’s most eligible bachelorsThis was long before creating a sensation with his engagement to American actress Meghan MarkleThey will be married immediately after the five-year anniversary of the Warrior Games that he attended. The third-in-line to the throne marched in the Opening Ceremony in full uniform as a British captain to support the United Kingdom teamI watched him stand and salute to both the U.Sand British national anthemsI saw him play with and serve as a coach for the United Kingdom sitting volleyball team against the U.Steam and beach volleyball star Misty May-TreanorHe was mobbed after the British team won the exhibition. But I don’t think anyone watching particularly cared about the results that day. “I don’t see how it wouldn’t be possible to fill a stadium with 80,000 people, not to watch Olympics, not to watch Paralympics, but to watch wounded servicemen fight it out amongst each other – not on a battlefield but in a stadium,” he was quoted as saying during a fund-raising brunch for The Royal Foundation’s Endeavour Fund and the U.SOlympic Committee’s Paralympic veterans program. I gained a new respect for Prince HarryBut I gained utmost respect for the wounded veterans, the men and women in the Warrior Games. I remember them in their Warrior Games uniforms, many in bright blue or red, as they walked or pushed their wheelchairs into the Opening CeremonyI remember the photo by The Gazette’s Jerilee Bennett that showed Anthony McDaniel in his bright-red uniform giving his young daughter a ride on his skateboard before the volleyball gameHe was a Marine like my father, Wilber HightBut he had lost both legs and a hand in an explosion in AfghanistanFrom the 2012-2014 Warrior Games, according to “Homes for the Troops,” McDaniel won 12 gold and three silver medals, just in track and field. During the 2012 basketball final, I was amazed seeing him streak up and down the basketball court, stealing balls and driving his wheelchair for quick layupsHe was there less than 2½ years after spending five months in Walter Reed Medical Center. As I watched McDaniel and his fellow athletes, I teared up in knowing that these are the athletes who deserve our admirationThese are the ones who are the true heroes. I hope we continue to support those brave athletes who persevere beyond their injuries in the Warrior GamesI hope we continue to remember those who protect our freedoms so we can watch future Olympics in fascinating places. Joe Hight is a Pulitzer Prize-winning and Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame editor who is the journalism ethics chair at the University of Central Oklahoma, director of the journalism hall of fame and president of Best of Books. 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