The first thing I had to do to get a true meaning of the word "juxtaposition" was learn how to spell it. Words with the letter "x" in it are always complicated.
But there is nothing complicated about the juxtaposition of the meaning of this particular football weekend, for it brings together those who lettered in sport, those who excelled through sport in life, and those to whom this football stadium is dedicated.
If we have your attention, you should know that the "x" word--juxtaposition--means "to place side by side."
This weekend, the University of Texas Athletics Department holds its Letterwinners' Roundup. Both Men's and Women's Athletics also recognize the latest inductees into their respective Halls of Honor.
All of that is about those who have performed, not only in the arenas, but in the words of the Men's Hall of Honor, "those who possess those qualities that brought credit and renown to The University of Texas."
At noon yesterday, the women inducted Robbin Coleman-Bell (track & field, 1979-82), Cindy Figg-Currier (golf, 1978-82), Richard Quick (swimming coach, 1983-88), Cathy Self-Morgan (basketball, 1974-77), Beverly Williams (basketball 1984-88) and Myrtle Mathisen Westerfeldt (Legacy Award, 1927).
Last night, at the 48th induction banquet for the men's Longhorn Hall of Honor, the newest honorees included Albert Almanza (basketball, 1959-61), Josh Davis (swimming, 1991-94), Dr. John Genung (football, 1960-62), Chuck Hartenstein (baseball (1962-64), Justin Leonard (golf, 1991-94), Stanley Richard (football, 1987-90) and Spanky Stephens (trainer, 1970-99).
Yesterday, and today in pre-game, we recognize them, and what they did for Texas.
But it is important to understand that all that they did, and nothing that they did, can ever match the meaning of the dedication of this "Texas Memorial Stadium."
And with no disrespect to those brave men and women who have represented our visitors from Oklahoma in the many foreign conflicts in which our country has been involved, this day is dedicated to those from the state of Texas who have served our country in war.
Over the last month, current Longhorn football players have taken it upon themselves to honor their teammate, Ahmard Hall, and his fellow U. S. Marines, by participating in a project called "Momma Bear Cares."
On Veteran's Day, November 11, the team will present their collection of items to The Marine Corps League Centex Detachment #318. At a practice recently, Dusty Mangum talked with his teammates about giving anything that they can, from a bag of candy to laundry soap, that can be sent to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The effort by the players is a small way of saying "thank you" to those who have put themselves in harm's way so that games can be played and freedom can be enjoyed.
This day, we will all pause for a moment to recognize not only those who have served, but those who are serving.
When the stadium was dedicated 80 years ago in 1924, it wasn't supposed to be that way. The stadium was for those who had served in "The Great War," which is what they called World War I.
One of the first Texans to fall in that war was Louis Jordan, arguably the greatest Texas football player of the first quarter century. The citizens of his hometown of Fredericksburg donated a flag pole in his memory, and for years it stood where the Steinmark scoreboard and the jumbotron are today. Several years ago, they found the plaque for the old flag pole, and it now proudly stands in the grassy area in the southeast corner of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
But while there were rumbles of war in faraway places then, folks believed that World War I was "the war to end all wars." And so it was in 1924.
Jordan was the first to die, and his courage and his sacrifice became a symbol for a generation.
Today, his memory and the honor of all those who have served, or are serving, has been kept alive by the stadium's Veteran's Committee. The committee is headed by Frank Denius, one of The University's great benefactors, is a World War II hero who was 18 when he hit the beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944.
If there are common threads that weave together this "juxtaposition," this "placing side by side" of separate things, they are some of the basic elements of the human spirit.
They are talent, dedication, honor, service and pride, all at the same time.
Jordan's story you know. But there are many more. Gen. K. L. Berry served in both World War I and World War II, and was a POW and part of the Bataan Death March. Former football Coach Jack Chevigny died at Iwo Jima. Keifer Marshall, the center on the 1943 team, was one of the few who came back from that island alive.
It is easy, and in a real sense perhaps appropriate, to get caught up in the past in such a historical setting. And too often, the memory of those who were lost fails to include the noble and important contribution of those who served bravely, and returned. Those names would fill all of the pages of this program. Ahmard Hall and thousands like him (and his wife, who is also a Marine) represent not only those who have served, and are serving, but those who are ready to serve again. That is why it was important to these current Longhorns to show their support of them.
Today's Veterans Recognition is important because it is real, and it is about right now. Wars didn't end in the early part of the last century, and if we are to learn anything from history, we know that they probably won't end with this one.
What we have learned is that freedom is precious, and its roots come from those who are willing to defend it. It is nurtured by brave men and women who have stood and are standing--juxtaposed, if you will--in the Armed Forces of The United States of America.
Long ago, an actor named Clifton Webb played in a movie about the great composer John Phillip Sousa. Sousa, who would become known as the "March King" because of his stirring marches, was supposedly working on a waltz. Slowly, in one, two, three cadence, he had written a song that went, "My love, is a weeping willow…."
Nobody danced, in fact, nobody even liked it.
But when he took it up-tempo, it became the opening stanza of a march.
He called the march "Semper Fidelis."
The Marines use it as their motto. It means "always faithful."
And so, on this day, honor and courage are "juxtaposed" with vigilance, not only by the Marines, but by so many who serve so faithfully in all branches of military service.
They will all tell you that you can sleep well, because they are awake.
Their dream is not to make war (though they will fight if they have to), but to create great peace.
This stadium is their monument. But it is not the brick and the concrete that hold it up. It is the brave power of the human spirit, the courage of the soul, and love of country.
And that, juxtaposed, is pretty strong.