National Guard July 2011 : Page 48

LAST WORD Second to None By Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger T WAS ONE white flag down, one checkered flag to go. The racing standard with those black and white squares was going to wave the instant National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand roared over the yard of bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 29. This rookie driver was heading toward an exhilarating, unbelievable, breathtaking finish at the head of the pack. JR was the lead driver three times during the 100th I What I saw after this event is remarkable for a number of reasons. The team owner, Panther Racing’s John Barnes, never lost his temper, leveled blame or reached for his racing rulebook to find a technicality that might have altered the outcome. And JR displayed maturity well beyond his 23 years. A crash and a second-place result would have sent most down a path of outrage and visible frustration. Yet, here was this rookie who was just seconds away AP Photo/AJ Mast Sgt. John Crosby The author poses with JR Hildebrand, who brushed the wall on the final lap of the Indianapolis 500 and settled for second place. running of the Indianapolis 500. I was fortunate to be watching from inside the main straightaway. If you had not seen his car when it was sitting still, the blur when it was moving may not have allowed you to notice his car had an ACU (camouflage) paint scheme. I remember looking at my wife, Rowana, and telling her that I could not believe that we were going to win the In-dianapolis 500. On its 100th anniversary. On Memorial Day weekend. Coming out of turn three, JR was one last left turn and a sprint away from racing immortality. Then it happened. Panther Racing representatives, Guardsmen watching and listening around the world and racing fans inside the track were jubilant, worried, shocked, confused and just about every other emotion you could muster. A split-second decision sent No. 4 into the wall, tore off a tire and dragged JR and the National Guard car into a second-place finish. We have all witnessed extreme reactions to great emo-tions. 48 A y oung driver showed us that winning has a much broader definition than most of us realize. from victory at this venerated track dis-playing the kind of sportsmanship and accountability that is noteworthy because it is so rare. I witnessed this young driver and his boss show us that even though life some-times sends us into the wall, courage and resilience can enable us to recover with our character intact. I have known the people at Panther Racing for years. When I saw JR later that day, he came over and hugged me. He said he wanted to apologize for letting down the men and women of the National Guard. JR, I said to him, you did not let us down. You provided us with a perfect example of how one defeat does not di-minish a person’s character. You presented us with evidence that accountability is a fundamental material in a person’s moral fiber. You showed us that winning has a much broader definition than most of us realize. To some, you placed second. To many of us, you won. The author is the Indiana adjutant general. He served as NGAUS chairman from 2006 to 2008. | Na tional Guard

Last Word

By Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger

Second to None<br /> <br /> IT WAS ONE white flag down, one checkered flag to go. The racing standard with those black and white squares was going to wave the instant National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand roared over the yard of bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 29.<br /> <br /> This rookie driver was heading toward an exhilarating, unbelievable, breathtaking finish at the head of the pack.<br /> <br /> JR was the lead driver three times during the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. I was fortunate to be watching from inside the main straightaway. If you had not seen his car when it was sitting still, the blur when it was moving may not have allowed you to notice his car had an ACU (camouflage) paint scheme.<br /> <br /> I remember looking at my wife, Rowana, and telling her that I could not believe that we were going to win the Indianapolis 500. On its 100th anniversary. On Memorial Day weekend.<br /> <br /> Coming out of turn three, JR was one last left turn and a sprint away from racing immortality.<br /> <br /> Then it happened.<br /> <br /> Panther Racing representatives, Guardsmen watching and listening around the world and racing fans inside the track were jubilant, worried, shocked, confused and just about every other emotion you could muster.<br /> <br /> A split-second decision sent No. 4 into the wall, tore off a tire and dragged JR and the National Guard car into a second-place finish.<br /> <br /> We have all witnessed extreme reactions to great emotions.<br /> <br /> What I saw after this event is remarkable for a number of reasons.<br /> <br /> The team owner, Panther Racing's John Barnes, never lost his temper, leveled blame or reached for his racing rulebook to find a technicality that might have altered the outcome.<br /> <br /> And JR displayed maturity well beyond his 23 years. A crash and a second-place result would have sent most down a path of outrage and visible frustration.<br /> <br /> Yet, here was this rookie who was just seconds away from victory at this venerated track displaying the kind of sportsmanship and accountability that is noteworthy because it is so rare.<br /> <br /> I witnessed this young driver and his boss show us that even though life sometimes sends us into the wall, courage and resilience can enable us to recover with our character intact.<br /> <br /> I have known the people at Panther Racing for years. When I saw JR later that day, he came over and hugged me. He said he wanted to apologize for letting down the men and women of the National Guard.<br /> <br /> JR, I said to him, you did not let us down. You provided us with a perfect example of how one defeat does not diminish a person's character. You presented us with evidence that accountability is a fundamental material in a person's moral fiber. You showed us that winning has a much broader definition than most of us realize.<br /> <br /> To some, you placed second. To many of us, you won.<br /> <br /> The author is the Indiana adjutant general. He served as NGAUS chairman from 2006 to 2008.<br /> <br /> A young driver showed us that winning has a much broader definition than most of us realize. <br />

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