Patriotic Night: A Salute to Our Troops
However, over the years I do think we look at this game as an opportunity to just dress up, taking away from the true meaning of the game. And while it’s all in good-fashioned fun to buy new outfits and socialize at a football game, there are other facets of the game at play here. Patriotic Night has so much more meaning behind it, and I wanted to take to the time to point out that fact.
Simply put, this game is for the troops, who day in and day out fight for our freedom. Whether that be the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, or the Marines. All of those who serve in the military deserve the greatest and utmost respect, and if we can pay a little bit of homage to them with a patriotic-themed game, then everyone should be on board.
Saint Xavier Athletics produce the best of the best. We produce men of character and honor, year in and year out. So much so, that this has translated to many athletes pursuing careers in the Armed Forces. So now, I want to give credit to where credit is due, and recognize a couple of guys that represent the greatness of Saint Xavier High School.
Donnie Bowers was a member of the class of 2007. Bowers was a tight-end for the football team, a member of the National Honor Society, and took part in the Big Brother program at St.X. In high school, he had not thought of the possibility of attending a military school. The U.S. Naval Academy changed this, however, recruiting him to be a member of their football team. This opened a new world for Bowers, and he made the decision to attend the Academy.
After graduating from the Navy, he was selected into the Marine Corps. He attended basic training in Quantico, Virginia, and was designated as an artillery officer. He first worked with the HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) Unit in California from 2013-2016. He has most recently began to work in a Recruitment Office stationed in Baltimore.
Bowers attributed some of his success to the self-discipline instilled by Mr. Drury and Mr. Espinosa. He said that they taught him to, “do the right thing when no one is looking,” and ultimately it paid off in the long run.
Jeff Marks (Class of ’88) was an active member of the Saint Xavier Community. During his four years, he was a member of the Football, Wrestling, and Track & Field teams. On top of that, he was the Student Activities Council Vice President, and a member of the National Honor Society. Almost thirty years later, Marks still says his favorite moment at St.X was running out on the field every Friday night with his teammates.
After St.X, Marks attended the Air Force Academy. He said that flying airplanes, “drew his attention.” Like Bowers, Marks didn’t know he wanted to join the military until he was actually apart of it. He described it as a leap of faith, but that it ultimately was a great decision.
From ’94-’99, Marks flew C-141 at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. He then became an instructor in Texas. In 2002, he transitioned to the USAF Reserves where he has held jobs as an instructor, recruiter, AOC Staff, among other things. Entering his 25th year of service, Marks is still active in the Reserves as a Lt. Colonel.
Zach Cahalan is a graduate of the Class of 2009. At St.X, Cahalan participated in a wide array of activities, including: football, wrestling, National Honor Society, Ryken Service Club, Spanish Club, and Saint Joseph of Arimathea Society. Unlike Bowers and Marx, the choice for Zach was always clear – that he was going to join the military.
Cahalan decided to apply to West Point, because he believed that West Point is, “the most challenging and developmental commissioning source the nation has to offer.” He went on to become an Aviation Officer, more specifically a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot. From 2013-2015 he served at Fort Rucker, AL. Presently, he is stationed at Soto Cano Airbase, Comayagua, Honduras. His brother, Brewer, is also a senior wide receiver for the Tiger Football Team.
He says that he had phenomenal English teachers at St.X, to whom he praised for teaching him to effectively express his thoughts. “The military and more specifically leadership, is founded on the principles of communication, and St.X was my bedrock in this regard.”
Lastly, we pay tribute to Kevin Meredith, Class of 1980. Meredith suited up for the Tiger Fùtbol Team in his tenure at St.X. Instead of joining the military, he had always thought that he may become a member of the police force, but after being introduced to ROTC at the University of Kentucky, his focus shifted.
Meredith served three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. While he was stationed in Iraq in 2005, he was a Senior Adviser to the only Iraqi Armor Division in the Iraqi Army. Essentially, he was in charge of training, manning, and equipping that division. During his first tour in Afghanistan, he was a human terrain team leader. He served his last tour from 2011-2012.
Meredith is still a very active member at St.X today. All three of his sons have attended St.X, his youngest son Michael is a senior wide receiver on the football team. Kevin also serves as the defensive backs coach for the freshman football team. His military discipline and leadership has translated well to the grid-iron, and many of his players appreciate his work and ability as a coach. He emphasizes to his players, and to every St.X student to, “do the hard right thing, rather than the easy wrong thing.”Now these are only a couple of guys that have moved on from St.X and pursued careers in the military. There are so many more, all of whom I would’ve loved to talk with. Unfortunately, I can’t. Which is why Patriotic Night is so great; it makes it possible for myself, and everyone in the community to connect with the best of the best of our alumni. So come Friday, think about those who have come before you to serve your country, who left a legacy for you to inherit at the greatest school in the world. And to give them your whole-hearted gratitude.
To Donnie, Jeff, Zach, Kevin, and all St.X graduates that have served, this is just a small way to thank you for all that you all have done and still do… this is our salute.
God Bless the Troops. God Bless America. And God Bless Saint Xavier High School.