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Invictus Games

Posted May. 07, 2016 07:16,   

Updated May. 07, 2016 07:32


British poet William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) came to learn that tuberculosis bacteria penetrated his born when he was just 12 years old. He had to endure the pain of his left leg below the knee amputated at a young age. The process in which he undergoes and overcomes such pain and hardship is the subject of short poem entitled "Invictus." In Latin, Invictus means people who cannot be conquered.

Invictus was often recited by Noble Peace laureate Nelson Mandela. He endured difficulties of complete isolation during his incarceration by repeatedly reciting "I am the master of my life. I am the captain of my spirit." In contrast, someone cited this poem even after massacring innocent people. Timothy McVeigh, the bomber of the Oklahoma City federal building in the U.S., left this poem as his final testimony before being executed in 2011.

An international athletic meet of disabled war veterans named after Henley’s poem will kick off in Orlando, Florida in the U.S. This is the second such competition after the first event in 2014, as an initiative of British prince Harry of Wales. Harry has an image of bad boy due to photos of his drinking binge and nude party, but he would also spearhead "noblesse oblige." After being commissioned as second lieutenant in 2006, he continued his military service in areas including the Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan despite objection by the Royal family, until his discharge from military service last year. His personal experience with the pain of disabled war veterans led him to initiate the establishment of Invictus. More than 500 people from 15 countries will take part in this year’s event, but none of them are Koreans.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently presented videos on the Invictus Games. President Obama tweeted and presented a video message, saying, “Prince Harry, the race has started.” Then prince Harry replied by presenting a comic video clip featuring even his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II. Trudeau also shouted “Canada is ready!” by taking push-up posture with one hand. We Koreans are envious of the images wherein the heads of states display keen interest in an international athletic meet of disabled war veterans by rooting for their athletes. There are two South Korean petty officers who lost legs last year due to wooden mines planted by North Korea. Aren’t we too easily oblivious about the sacrifice and dedication of these people, who risked their lives to protect the nation, by making excuse with our own fast-moving life?

고미석기자 mskoh119@donga.com