Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Healthy Dose of Perspective

Excerpt From the Los Angeles Times
By Steve Henson
Times Staff Writer
May 27, 2006

WASHINGTON — Aaron Sele set his alarm and made the trip because he was struck by the inspirational story of Maj. David Rozelle, who has run marathons and triathlons despite losing a leg during the Iraq war.

For Nomar Garciaparra, it was about giving back. For Andre Ethier, it was about gaining perspective.

The three players were part of a 15-person Dodgers contingent that visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Friday morning and spent several hours with wounded soldiers.

"Shaking hands, flesh to flesh, with guys who have given so much and whose lives are changed forever, it was an honor to meet them," Ethier said.

Although his grandfather and four great-uncles served in World War II, Ethier, 24, said he hadn't given the armed forces much thought.

"Three years ago I was watching from my dorm room at Arizona State when we were bombing Iraq," he said. "But none of my friends are over there. It didn't quite seem real."

It was sobering for the players to meet soldiers who have lost limbs or had multiple surgeries.

"Some of them are younger than me, that was the shocking part," Ethier said. "It was eye-opening. It puts in perspective where we are in life. Going 0 for 5 in the big leagues isn't the worst thing that can happen. I'm playing for fun, and guys are sacrificing their lives there."

The visit was initiated by an e-mail to the Dodgers website from a physician in response to the 30-year anniversary of Rick Monday's famed flag-rescuing episode.

Monday's wife contacted the doctor, Lt. Col. John Pitman, who met with the group Friday. Manager Grady Little, most of the coaches and several broadcasters went along with the three players.

"We were as excited to meet them as they were to meet us," Sele said. "It was a pretty incredible experience."

Garciaparra said he was touched but didn't want to elaborate."I'd just rather keep that private," he said. "But it was nice we went."

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