It’s a clever play on words that illustrates the simple wisdom of the actual phrase “fight or die”. Fight or die. Fight against that which holds you back. Fight against the insecurity or the uncertainty of life or perish. The old Latin proverb made famous by Virgil, “audentis Fortuna iuvat” or “Fortune favors the bold”, reminds us that life is not for the timid as they (the timid) are soon relegated into obscurity and insignificance.
Veterans were not made for obscurity nor insignificance. This isn’t to say that veterans are better than anyone, just different. Shaped by experiences that are unique to the jobs they perform. Throughout the lifetime of our nation, we’ve seen veterans take up the yoke of leadership several times. From George Washington to Lieutenant Michael Murphy and beyond, we’ve seen them shoulder a unique burden…the lives of others. So it should be no surprise that a group of veterans made history last year and became the first all-veteran team to row, yes, row across the Atlantic Ocean.
Why? Because the ‘tribe’ as Sebastian Junger would call it, means something to these men.
Partnering with Denver University’s Sturm Center Graduate School of Professional Psychology and Colorado University’s Marcus Institute of Brain Health, the Fight Oar Die team realized that raising money for these institutions is only part of the solution. They had to remind their brothers and sisters what they were capable of after undergoing the crucible of military service. They had to have some skin in the game. That’s where the ocean row came in.
Four men from the United States Army piled into a boat in La Gomera, Spain and spent 54 days at sea, entirely self-sufficient, rowing towards Antigua. More people have summited Mount Everest than have rowed across oceans.
What was next? They raised money, proved that when a veteran sets their mind to something they are more than capable of achieving great feats of strength, endurance, and mental fortitude. Would this be the end? A one-hit wonder?
No. It wouldn’t be fitting if this was just a one-off, a feat to never again be repeated. It wouldn’t send the right message. So Fight Oar Die has put together another all veteran team for 2019, two teams for 2020 (one male team, one female team) and are currently in the process of putting together two teams for 2021 as well.
Stagnant water is a breeding ground for disease. We veterans were not meant to be stagnant. We were meant to either Fight Oar Die.