By Kylee Bush, Ultimate Spark! Junior Coach
There are many inspiring people in this world.
When I was 13 years old, my brother was graduating from high school, and my father was retiring from the U.S. Army.
Every graduation ceremony has a guest speaker. My brothers had Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, of the United States Army. Col. Gadson served the US for more than 26 years. He served as Garrison Commander of Fort Belvoir, as well as served in: Operations Desert Shield/Storm in Kuwait; Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In May 2007, as commander of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, Col. Gadson’s greatest challenge arose in Iraq, where an IED attack cost him both legs, above the knees, and normal use of his right arm, and hand.
Following this, he chose to stay on as active duty, and continue to serve his country, and practice the Army values of; loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage (LDRSHIP). He also made his screen debut in the movie Battleship, in 2012, and acted in The Inspectors. He was also a linebacker at West Point, and an honorary member of the New York Giants.
I had the honor of speaking with Col. Gadson about his idea of peace, and spirituality.
“The biggest challenge in life is to stay present”
“Never hold onto the past”
“Don’t live a day in the future”
These points were really important to him, and they all tie into one another. The importance of staying in the present is because he realizes that everyone has an expiration date, and nobody knows when that is.
The current pandemic is a great example of this.
Many people feel stuck, and as if their lives were put on hold, when really it is their future that is put on hold. Everyone has the chance now to focus on bettering themselves, and working through life one day at a time. The current pandemic is really giving everyone the chance to focus on staying in the present.
Now is the perfect time to start putting this into practice. Stop focusing so much on when this will be over, and instead take things one day at a time. Days are numbered, and it is important to make the most of each day. Whether it’s exercising, reading a book, cleaning, baking, or whatever you plan to do, each day is a gift, and it is important to make the most out of each day, and focus on life one day at a time.
Col. Gadson believes that, “holding onto the past encombers movement.” This all has to do with forward momentum. It is okay to think about the past, but it is not okay to dwell on it, dwelling on things only hinders your chance to live fully. The past is for teaching lessons, and moving forward from those lessons.
Gadson found peace in letting go of the past. He, of all people, has the right to dwell on the past, but instead he made the conscious decision to let it go, and improve himself. In doing this he is able to get a weight off of his shoulders and truly live his current day to the fullest. He is allowing himself to move on, and forward, and he finds peace in doing so.
When thinking about the future, it is important not to live in it. Living in it has to do with using that to fuel your own happiness. This goes back to his point that no day is guaranteed. You should find happiness and peace everyday, not in un-guaranteed days.
He has been through a lot and faced death head on, and therefore believes in the idea of present thinking. Just like it is not good to dwell on the past, it also is not good to focus solely on the future. Everyday people persevere through challenges, and overcome adversities. All of these things have an effect on one’s future, but this does not mean you have to live in that future. Focus on today, and you will be able to create a future for yourself full of happiness just by making the most of each day.
I hope that you are able to learn something from Col. Gadson’s story, and the way he was able to find peace. It is inspiring to me, and so I hope it can be to you too. Col. Gadson says, “being your best today = peace”. Remember this when you find yourself caught up in the past, or focusing too hard on the future. Take life one day at a time.
- Col. Gregory D. Gadson, phone interview, May 11, 2020
Military awards include: The Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit (2); Bronze Stars (3); Purple Heart; the Meritorious Service Medal (3) and the Army Commendation Medal (3). He is a graduate of Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and holds masters degrees in Information Systems from Webster University; and Policy Management from Georgetown University. He holds an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Webster University.