If you ask any CrossFitter what a Hero WOD is, they will all tell you the same thing… It’s a workout designed to honor the men and women who have given their lives to serve our country. And if you’ve been around CrossFit for long, you’ve probably participated in a few yourself.
But Legion 8 is different. It’s not just another Hero WOD.
No, this one hits close to home. We’ve all seen stories on the news, telling us of men and women who gave their life for our country. And for a moment we feel a mixture of sadness, gratefulness, and patriotism. But the depth of it doesn’t hit home like it would if it was a next door neighbor or the guy sweating beside you on the pull-up bar or if you looked into the watery eyes of a brave, grieving mother who just wants to hug her son one more time.
And that’s why Legion 8 is different.
Participating in Legion 8 suddenly brings to life the stories of eight men who died serving our country… The stories of breaking and healing, tragedy and hope that their family and friends continue walk through each and every day. There’s no way to hear the story and participate in this event without it taking hold of your heart and touching it deeply in some way.
Legion 8 began about five years ago in July of 2012…. at Premier CrossFit, primarily by a man named Jeff Morris.
Jeff shares his own story that led to the birth of Legion 8… The story of a strong brotherhood, a tight knit group of brave men who trained together, fought together, and who deployed twice together. And then the heartbreaking story of each of the men who died serving in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007 and how there’s nothing harder than losing friends and brothers and then having to look in the eyes of those left and say, ‘We have a job to finish here. We have to keep going. We have to see this through.”
And they did.
But in the aftermath of it all as they returned home to family and friends, the effects of the grief and trauma set in and began to affect each of them in a deep way. In Jeff’s words, “When we got back, everyone scattered. Other than anniversaries, there was just nothing. Then we started seeing suicide, divorce, drinking, even arrest. I tried to be strong. Guys would call me about the problems they were facing and I would say and do the right things and help them, but I never took my own advice. I had so many things pent up inside of me. Here I was trying to help others and be strong when inside I was hiding the fact that I was deeply struggling.
After reaching out to a counselor and beginning my own healing process, I realized that I needed to share this story, not just with those involved but with others. So one evening, I got a little liquid courage and opened up to some CrossFit friends and shared my story. They were more receptive than I could have imagined. That’s when someone suggested making a hero WOD for the guys. It was only going to be a few of us at first, but then it grew. We did it on a Saturday at Premier. And it was such a healing process not only for me, but the other guys involved and the families. We usually got together and cried, but that day a weight lifted off my shoulders, and somehow we were laughing together, sweating and dead tired.”
And it’s been growing ever since.
Legion 8 has been going on for five years and now there are boxes participating in it all over the country. It began as brave step in the healing process for the survivors and a catalyst to honor the men who died and let their families know that their boy isn’t forgotten. But it’s grown into something that is so much more.
Jeff says, “Something happened the first time that I didn’t think much about, but then I began to really take notice of it when it continued to happen year after year. Each time, someone would come up to me after the WOD, prompted by me sharing this story, and tell me incredibly personal stories… stories of sexual assault, losing a loved one, or experiencing a traumatic event and how they persevered and made it through. And I realized PTSD is not exclusive to the military.
A buddy of mine coined the term “Moral Casualty” and it’s very fitting. People know how to treat broken bones, but how can you treat moral causalities? What about the scars and wounds on our hearts and minds? People are afraid to share what they’ve been through. I know I was. I thought people would avoid me and instead they walked over and hugged me. It was a huge part of my personal healing process. So that’s why we want to raise awareness for mental health, PTSD, and anyone who has been affected by tragedy or trauma. I believe that their story and ours will affect thousands of people in years to come. Legion 8 has become a platform that can help others. It’s always about honoring the guys and families, and secondly about sharing the story and helping all kinds of people.
Our motto is, “Never let your circumstance, past or present, dictate what you are capable of moving forward.”
That’s the message that we want to spread through Legion 8.
So when you do this WOD and you see the faces of mothers and wives, fiancés and sisters, friends and brothers who grieve and ache for loved ones lost, who want more than anything to know that their boy is not forgotten, you will feel their pain and bravery and hope. You will feel their story and you might even remember a piece of your own story.
And that’s one of the reasons we made this WOD so long and with so many reps… It’s like tiny a microcosm of life in general. It’s something we can all relate to.
It’s one more rep; one more day without a father, fiancé, brother, husband, or son. It’s struggling to hold onto the bar when you’re exhausted; struggling to hold onto hope when you just feel like giving up. You feel energy for the first round and that runs out. But you just got to dig deep, press through, and do it. You just have to keep going, rep after rep, just like we all do day after day. It’s not easy. It never is.
Sometimes people do the workout alone… because some things in life just have to be dealt with and journeyed through alone. But often times, you need someone else. You need a partner, someone to help you bear the weight and tell you that you have more in you than you think and tell you that you’re going to make it through.”
And that’s what Legion 8 is all about. It’s about honoring these men who gave their life to serve our country and protect our freedom. It’s about making this the highlight of the family’s year as they pull out pictures and memories and feel the love of people gathering and surrounding them to remember the lives of their brave son, husband, or father. And it’s about raising awareness for everyone who has walked through PTSD, grief, mental health issues, and trauma.
“Never let your circumstance, past or present, dictate what you are capable of moving forward”
Join us on May 8! Look for registration information coming soon