What Does 10 Minutes In Pyongyang Have To Do With Fitness?


Memorial Day

I am very thankful for the many international followers of GymJunkies.com.  Today in the United States we celebrate Memorial Day – a holiday in honor of our military men and women who have died for their country. 

Being a United States Army veteran myself, this is a holiday that I take very seriously.

In November of 2000 I went to Pyongyang, North Korea.  North Korea is arguably the most isolated nation in the world, and I’ve been there – for about ten minutes.

Memorial Day…

My final year in the Army was spent in Seoul, South Korea as part of the United Nations Command Honor Guard.  We served as armed guards for several high-level intelligence facilities as well as the home of a four-star general.  We also raised and lowered the post flag each day and performed various ceremonies while wearing the sharp “dress blue” uniforms.

The most memorable ceremony I was part of was a repatriation ceremony.  We got on board a C-130 aircraft in our dress blues and flew from Seoul to Tokyo to Pyongyang, to pick up remains of American servicemen from the Korean War.  Hitting the runway in Pyongyang was eerie… there was a huge mural of their leader, Kim Jong Il, and we were under strict orders to not take any photographs.

The ramp dropped and we exited the plane to be met by a semi-circle of North Korean soldiers.  They stayed in their vehicles for the most part and I remember wondering if they had rifles with them – as we were unarmed.  A moment later a truck with a trailer full of aluminum caskets pulled up to the ramp of the plane.  We took a deliberate moment to honor the fallen with solemn salutes, and then swiftly loaded the caskets onto the plane.  The ramp  closed, the engines started, and I was happy to end my ten minutes in Pyongyang.

So what does this post have to do with health and fitness?

Nothing.  Or everything.  It really depends on how you think about it.

Maybe you train at a gym, whether a behemoth corporate facility or a mom and pop dungeon, because capitalism allows us to operate our own businesses.

Maybe you vote for elected officials that will shape health care policies, pharmaceutical standards, and what your kids eat during school lunches.

Or maybe you take for granted that tonight your sleep will be uninterrupted by foreign invaders.

In the United States we are blessed with the ability to choose healthy nutrition, a variety of fitness options, and perhaps a too plentiful array of leisure and entertainment distractions.  And all of these choices can be traced back to the sacrifices that our service men and women have made at various points in history.

Please join me today in taking a moment to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

How are you celebrating Memorial Day? 

What are you doing to honor our fallen servicemen and women? 

If you live in a country other than the United States, what are your traditions and holidays to honor your fallen servicemen and women?  Let us know in the comments below.


  1. Word up Vic! Props to you, my cousins, and many close friends for serving and sacrificing for the good of all! As you know, I’m living in Vietnam now and can say first hand that Democracy is the way to go..hands down better than anything out there! Hope to see you sometime in July on my yearly pilgrimage home to the Buckeye state! Happy Memorial Day!

  2. Well said, Vic. Thank you for your service, and here’s to all the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. May they remain in our hearts as we celebrate this Memorial Day.

  3. I used your words as an inspirational post to my Facebook page. Thank you for your service Vic.

    Our Way of Thinking
    Our Beliefs
    Our Freedom
    Our Conscious Efforts to take care of Ourselves

    We might be free to buy a Big Mac, but our service men and women died for us to be a healthy nation.

    Blessings and DEEPEST regards,

  4. Oooaah Vic! I am remembering our fallen brothers and sisters in arms by praying for them and their families. I am also in the Armed Services so I take this holiday seriously as well. Thank you to everyone supporting our troops; past,present, and future.

  5. As an activist and watchdog for several issues I hold close to me, it’s easy to forget that I have it pretty damn good, and become jaded. Thanks for putting things into perspective.

    Thanks for your service.



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