In the outstanding personal development course called Understand Yourself and Others, the weekend seminar ends with the students writing down their goals and dreams.
A goal is something you can achieve in a set time period, like calling your estranged mother, signing up for an exercise course or setting aside an hour a day to play with your kids. It is in the pronouncement of a dream that most folks get hung up. Not because they don't have them but because they don't have the tenacity to stick with them long enough to make them come true.
The 2001 football season at Texas is a mirror of the UYO course room.
The goal is to win one game at a time. The dream is to win all the games.
However, the window of opportunity for a Texas team starved for a top national ranking is now. For the first time since it achieved a No. 1 ranking during the 1984 season that it couldn't sustain, Texas is ranked among the nation's top five and is being mentioned as a National Championship contender.
That's why head coach Mack Brown has been open and honest with his football team about dreams. Themes in Brown's tenure at Texas have included "Practice Winning Every Day," W.I.T. (Whatever It Takes), and "It," a reflection of a Darrell Royal quote about having "it." This season, the motto is "Don't Be Afraid to Live Your Dream."
"Every kid who ever played the game of college football has dreamed of winning a National Championship," says Brown. "To tell our kids not to think about it would be wrong. But there is a difference between dreaming a dream and living a dream."
It is not without irony that tonight we begin the 2001 season at the same time we are honoring our veterans, with a special emphasis on the signing of the truce with Japan 56 years ago.
Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium stands as a living monument to those veterans who have fought in all wars in the service of The United States of America. As we remember World War II, it is important to honor those who dreamed and never came home and those who dreamed and made the cause of freedom real.
The war in the Pacific is a perfect example of how you make dreams come true.
Before and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese established strong holds on a series of islands in the Pacific Ocean. The island groups were the Solomons, the Gilberts, the Marshalls, the Marianas and the Bonins. History will remember them as Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Tinian, Kwajalein, Guam, Saipan, Okinawa, Peleliu and Iwo Jima.
To get close enough to attack the Japanese mainland by air, the U.S forces had to secure a safe haven for planes within striking range and did so in the 1940s. It was also imperative not to leave your flank uncovered, so it was a matter of island by island, raising the Stars and Stripes and defeating the enemy.
A former Texas football coach, Jack Chevigny (1934-36), died at Iwo Jima. They say a sniper shot him. Keifer Marshall, a center on the 1943 team, came home a hero from the same island. He was lucky. There were more Jack Chevignys than there were Keifer Marshalls in the blood baths of the islands. Six thousand Marines and almost all of the Japanese defenders died at Iwo Jima alone.
Island by island, battle by battle, the Marines moved across the "ladder" of the islands of the Central Pacific toward the big island of Japan. They knew the destination, but they never lost sight of the steps it took to get there.
Is there a message in life there? And for this football team? How about "set your goals, move forward step by step, cover your backside and take nothing for granted." The men from the little island of Japan fought in the caves, in the jungles and on the beaches to keep the approaching Marines away from their homeland.
On Aug. 2, 1945, at two in the morning, a U.S. bomber named the Enola Gay took off from the tiny island of Tinian. As the sun rose behind them, the pilots peered through the darkness toward a distant shore. A little more than six hours later, at 8:16 a.m., they pulled the hatch and dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
The time clock is running for those who fought in World War II. Obituary pages in newspapers throughout the country remind us that life is really fragile and it gets more so after 56 years.
As the 2001 season begins, it has been 40 years since Darrell Royal's 1961 team excited the Texas football world by achieving a No. 1 ranking just after the midpoint of the season. Eight times during those 40 years, Texas has been within one win of a National Championship. The Horns have won three - in 1963, '69 and '70. They've lost five - in 1961 (a 6-0 loss to a 3-4-1 TCU team), '62 (a 14-14 tie to a Rice team that finished 2-8), '64 (14-13 to Arkansas) and in bowl game losses in 1977 and '83.
The 1963 team won by coming from behind in the last minute to defeat a Texas A&M team which had won only two games, 15-13. It is not easy to realize your dream when other people are fighting hard because they get to dream too.
The message of the war is also the message of a team. In the UYO course, there is one important piece in embarking on the quest of your dream. Whatever the dream, you can't make it happen by yourself. They'll tell you can only realize your dream by inspiring others to join you in your journey.
So on a night when we honor those who fought for freedom, let us salute the young, who have the freedom to dream.