There are many days where I will spend my lunch time surfing the web … sometimes with purpose, but usually aimlessly. Facebook is pretty good at helping with the latter. I jump from a friend’s link to another, then another, and half an hour later I’m on a “wild tangent surf”. StumbleUpon and Twitter are also good for this.
Today’s lunch surf session landed me on a lens (topic) at Squidoo on Bear Bryant. In case you don’t recognize my post’s title, that’s one of Bear’s quotes — one of my personal faves.
You know, it’s amazing that you can study a person, idolize them growing up, and still really NOT know everything about them. I remember hearing all the Alabama football “glory stories” growing up from both my parents and grandparents. I still remember watching Alabama play on TV. I remember watching The Bear Bryant Show on Sunday afternoons with my grandfather.
“Golden Flake and Coca-Cola … great pair, says ‘The Bear’!”
I remember the day he passed away. I remember watching his funeral on TV. Even at that young age, I knew that Alabama football wouldn’t be the same for a very long time. Hell, we got a pretty good coach right now. A lot of people say ole Nick reminds them of Bear. A lot of people (mostly other teams) tell us that we live in the past. But growing up here, how could you not? Over the years I’ve read and re-read some of my favorite Bear stories. There are tons of pages out there on the internet of quotes and tons of books about the man. Sure there, are tons of webpages and books on lots of worthless people, but their legends do not live on like Bear’s has!
So excuse me for being a living-breathing crimson-blooded outrageously-obnoxious Alabama fan, but Coach William Paul “Bear” Bryant was more than “just a coach” to me. He was more than a great motivator. He was more than a great leader. He was more than a friend, a confidant and a mentor to his players. He was a great man … and he was a veteran.
I didn’t know that last one. Did you?
I happily discovered via Wikipedia that Bear Bryant joined the US Navy following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He served just off North Africa, but never saw any combat action. But the article does say that his ship, the SS Uruguay, was rammed by another ship and ordered to be abandoned. Bear disobeyed that order, which saved the lives of his men. It goes on to say that while in the Navy, he attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
The article goes on to describe the rest of his coaching career, but it surprised me that I hadn’t heard about his service before. I can’t say I’m surprised. Like I’ve always said Bear was a great man, and so many of our greatest can be found in our military. So many great men have served this great country before, and so many great men (and women!) are serving now.
While most will never gain Bear’s level of fame, if at all, they all richly deserve it in my eyes.
God bless your soul, Coach. And God bless our troops, vets, and those who love and support them!