By Clyde Davis
(For all the men and women serving on homeland defense missions)
Up and down the three rivers that converge at Pittsburgh, Pa., there are clusters of steel mill and mining towns lining the wooded and stream-riddled hills of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
This is where I grew up.
In the 1960s and ’70s, they were home to hardworking people, employed in the steel mills and the coal mines.
It creates an atmosphere that breeds a certain type of football — steel town football, mud and cold weather football, Ohio State football, or Pittsburgh Steeler football, or the style of the old Cleveland Browns.
So your uncle was a center, and your dad was a guard, and your other uncle was a tackle. The day you came home from freshman practice talking about becoming a running back, your dad, who almost never spoke roughly to you, roughly explained that you would be wasting your time.
You were meant to play the line on offense, so just stick to it. Thus you did, all through high school.
Offensive linemen have a thankless job. Offensive linemen have a necessary job. There would be no touchdowns if there were no blockers.
That’s kind of the way Homeland Security Defense is. There would be scant security within our borders, without the men and women serving on Homeland Security missions.
There would be less freedom for troops to shuttle back and forth to Southwest Asia, if it were not for Homeland Defense in place. But the people serving on Homeland Security probably feel as hidden from public acclaim as the fat boys pounding it out on the line so others can score touchdowns.
Offensive linemen are appreciated by their fellow players, who know what they are worth. Often enough, Gary Stepancic, our quarterback, treated us to pizza after we had enabled him to make some more Friday night headlines.
Gary knew that if he didn’t have his blockers out front, it would all go to pieces. The run of the mill soldier knows that those on duty at the gates of Holloman, Cannon, Kirtland, White Sands, are helping to hold everything together. That run of the mill soldier may be a private or a three-star, but he (or she) knows …
Offensive linemen are not always appreciated by the hierarchy. Head coaches and athletic directors may seemingly view them as expendable — until a good one gets hurt.
Homeland Security, now that it is less of a political football, may seem to be unappreciated by the hierarchy. It doesn’t matter.
The fact is, the mission being performed guarding Cannon, Holloman, et al, is just as vital as it was in late September 2001 when everything began to hit the mobilization tables.
So there you have it. Hats off to the men and women performing Homeland Security.
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University.
He can be contacted at