SPOKANE, Wash. – Memorial Day honors the men and women who have died in service to America since the Civil War began in 1861, a tally that numbers over one million.
Some choose go to memorial ceremonies, others to cemeteries, but there’s another option to honor those fallen heroes, one that tests your physical and mental ability, and you can find it at CrossFit Spokane.
With the allure of the long weekend Memorial Day brings, “We kinda forget what this day means,” said Michael Gerry, Air Force veteran and co-owner of CrossFit Spokane.
Instead of heading to the lake or taking a fun trip out of town, Gerry takes time to remember.
“We have a family friend who passed away, [an] Army guy as well, so this time of year is really impactful for us,” he said.
And for the CrossFit community across the nation, there’s one way to honor the fallen. But it isn’t through memorial ceremonies or visiting cemeteries… these athletes are doing the “Murph” workout.
“It’s taxing—you’re whole body, you’re arm, you’re grip, you’re breathing, you’re redlining the entire workout from beginning to end,” Kasey Barton said.
Aptly named after Navy Seal Michael Murphy, who was killed 17 years ago in Afghanistan, athletes like Kasey Barton are putting their abilities to the test to honor him and the million others who laid down their lives for this country.
“It’s a different feeling, a different aura in the gym, a different energy when it happens,” Gerry explained.
“I got to know the story about Murph, so it was really an honor to work out in his name,” Barton said.
And it’s not easy—the workout starts with a mile run, goes into 100 pullups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and finishes off a second mile—all while strapped into a 20 pound weighted vest.
It tests not only physical, but also mental endurance in these athletes.
“There were times that I thought I could quit, and nobody would say anything,” admitted Barton. “But deep down inside, I’d know. And I’d know that for the people who have sacrificed, I’m just not going to quit. So that’s what kept me going today.”
Taking off the vest at the end is just one last reminder: this struggle pales in comparison to what those who fought and died for this country went through.
“It’s just a way of paying your respects, and just remembering and recognizing. Saying thank you for the freedoms we take for granted sometimes,” said Gerry. “Everybody is a little different as to how they want to support and remember, and this is just another avenue.”
However you want to remember those who lost their lives, as long as you do take a moment, that’s all anyone can ask for.