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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Wounded warriors and Invictus

Team Canada Basketball Team at 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto (photo courtesy Invictus Games)
Joyce Sasse - How many have faced “dark nights of the soul”? How many are wounded warriors, whose lives have been impacted because of life-altering happening(s)? I think of victims of violence, refugees, those who have lived through natural disasters (and those who help clean up from the devastation), and First Responders (fire-fighters, police, paramedics). I think of women caught up in the clutches of post-partum depression, individuals with strokes or sight problems, families impacted by addictions…

“Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.” Those are the opening lines of William Henry’s poem “Invictus”. The words were penned more than a century ago, after Henry went through having his leg amputated because of TB complications.

It’s that sentiment of “unconquerable soul”, finding strength and resilience in the face of incredible challenges, that has been brought to our attention again with the staging of the “Invictus Games” in Toronto. Prince Harry invited wounded soldiers to come together, with their families, to challenge, encourage and support each other as they reach beyond the blight of their wounds, to cross incredible thresholds.

This Invictus Movement has not only shown how the power of sport can enable people wounded in war to move physically, psychologically and socially beyond the trauma, the loss of limbs, the brain injuries, the haunting memories … It has reminded us of others, outside the military, who are also making incredible contributions in spite of the blows that impact them. It has reminded us, also, what a difference it makes when buildings and streetscapes are barrier free, and when mental health issues are no longer treated as a hidden liability. Each member of our society has the right to contribute in his or her own way.

The Invictus Games are the Cooperative Games. It’s not about who is fastest, strongest, most nimble... It’s about how, by working together, lives are enriched and frontiers are expanded. Wounded warriors, with their unconquerable souls, have so much to teach us.

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