Today marks the unofficial beginning of the great American summer.
This season's exit, as you well know, will be commemorated by an oblong ball being kicked off of a tee in Ohio Stadium in September.
Today is also the Federal holiday formerly known as Decoration Day, which was created to honor the soldiers from the Union and Confederacy who died during the Civil War. After 1945 it was expanded to commemorate all Americans who paid the ultimate sacrifice to the republic.
Like Christmas, Memorial Day has a core meaning that has sprouted multiple purposes and traditions, from sporting events to family gatherings to charring delicious animal flesh on a hot grill while you re-introduce your sweet, sweet skin to this year's crop of mosquitos.
It is impossible to bastardize the true meaning of Memorial Day, because regardless of how you choose to celebrate this magnificent day off of work, you're directly honoring the men and women who fought to make it possible.
That is because our freedoms include how we choose to conduct ourselves at the times and places of our choosing. That means that today whether you're trying to or not, you're celebrating Memorial Day. There are countries that force you to celebrate state-sponsored holidays. You don't want to live there. Eternal thanks to all of those departed souls who gave their lives under the flag. These plump hot dogs, this day of not showering, this glorious land - it all exists because of those heroes that transcend every American generation.
Here are just a few of the countless Ohioans who have served in our military. Thanks, fellas.
Bob Shaw Shaw was first team All-Ohio in both football and basketball as well as the Ohio state champion in the shot put and discus. He played both ways for (future Navy lieutenant) Paul Brown at Ohio State and was a key part of Brown's 1942 national championship team. He served with the 104th Infantry that fought the Third Reich all over Europe, earning a bronze star.
Shaw passed away last month after a brief illness at the age of 89. When you think of dynamic two-way players from Fremont Ross, you probably think of Charles Woodson. That's really too bad. You should think of Bob Shaw.
Pandel Savic Savic's family immigrated to the United States from Macedonia and settled in Youngstown. He had the option of going to Ohio State on a full scholarship in 1943 but instead joined the Marine Corps and fought in the battles of Okinawa and Pela Lu. Upon his return, he took up that offer to play football for the Buckeyes.
Savic scored the winning touchdown late in the 1949 Rose Bowl - Ohio State's first - to beat California 19-16. He was inducted into the Buckeye Hall of Fame in 2009.
Mike Lanese Lanese was a two-time Academic All-America for the Buckeyes in the early eighties who might be remembered most on the field for his heroics in the 1984 Michigan game. He was the antithesis of Ray Small: A popular co-captain who was smart enought to be awarded with a Rhodes Scholarship, which allowed him to spend two years after graduating from Ohio State studying at Oxford
Lanese then enrolled in the Navy and served as a Surface Warfare Officer on the USS Sterett for four years. He is now a successful Columbus-area businessman.
Charles Csuri and the 1942 Buckeyes The inspiration behind Nike's retro-forward uniforms from the most recent Michigan. While it's easy to accuse Nike of obscuring a marketing-driven moneygrab by disrupting the normally beautiful contrasts of the uniforms in The Game, it is impossible to miss the character and nobility of what Csuri and his teammates accomplished on the field and in battle.
Hope you enjoyed this little Veterans/Memorial Day mashup. Enjoy and take time for remembrance today. Or don't. They've earned you the right to do as you please.