Journey of a Lifetime

Students perform A Midsummer Night's Dream

“Over two millenniums ago, an army of Greek soldiers found themselves isolated in the middle of the Persian Empire. One thousand miles from safety. One thousand miles from the sea. One thousand miles with enemies on all sides. Theirs was a story of a desperate forced march. Theirs was a story of courage.  This too is a story of courage.”

The Warriors is a 1979 American cult action/thriller film based on Sol Yurick’s 1965 novel of the same name. Sol Yurick passed away on January 6, 2013, and I was able to make a journey not unlike the Warriors in his story.  The Warriors is my favorite movie and where I got the title for this column, “Can You Dig It?”

Before I begin my story, I would like to give a brief summary of the movie.  Cyrus, leader of the Gramercy Riffs, the most powerful gang in New York City, calls a midnight summit of over 100 New York area gangs, requesting them to send nine unarmed delegates to Van Cortlandt Park. The Warriors, from Coney Island, Brooklyn, are one such gang. Cyrus proposes to the assembled crowd a permanent citywide truce that would allow the gangs to control the city. Most of the gangs laud his idea, but Luther, leader of the Rogues, shoots Cyrus and frames the Warriors for the murder. The gang leader of the Warriors, Cleon, is beaten down by the Riffs who believe the Warriors are responsible for Cyrus’ death. With Cleon missing and presumed dead, the other Warriors escape. Unbeknownst to the Warriors, the Riffs call a hit on them through a radio DJ. The gang’s “war chief” Swan takes charge of the group and they head back to the subway. The Warriors are then forced to fight all the gangs in the city to make it back to Coney Island.

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This movie had such an impact on my life I always felt that I needed to make the same journey as the Warriors. This past Christmas, my girlfriend Jess forced me open up one of my gifts early.  The gift was a trip to New York City. We stayed at a gorgeous hotel in Manhattan on Broadway. We visited all the tourist spots in the city – Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, and much more. On December 27, 2012, I put on my Harley Davidson skull cap, Warriors shirt, threw on my backpack and Jess and I jumped on the subway to start our journey. I have to tell you it was awesome to see it in person; it was everything I was hoping it would be. We made it all the way to Coney Island.  Then, I saw the famed boardwalk with the Wonder Wheel ominously towering above it all; it gave me the chills.  At that moment, I looked at Jess and quoted Swan from the movie, “This is what we fought all night to get back to.” We went down and walked on the beach where the final scene of the movie took place.  It felt like after all of these years, this journey of mine was complete. I had reached the literal “end of the line” and it was similar to the events at the end of the movie, like redemption. In the last scenes of the movie, The Riffs discovered that it was not the Warriors who killed Cyrus, but the Rogues who pulled the trigger.  The Riffs went to Coney Island to make things right with the Warriors, “You Warriors are good, real good, the rest is ours…” The mysterious DJ announces that the big alert had been called off and saluted the Warriors with a song.

The struggles that the Warriors went through in the movie are much like what we face in the real world every day. You may be fighting to get the grades you want in your classes, fighting to get a job or promotion, or just fighting to survive in this world. Just know this: your friends are your gang and you should stick together and fight together like the Warriors.  I know this is only a movie, but I have a real life connection to this story.  I was in a real “gang” called the Warriors. This was the name of the unit I was in when I served in the Army.  The word “Warriors” is engraved along one side of my Army Sniper ring.  I don’t know if my love of this movie was fate, but I do know that am proud to be a Warrior. Our unit had the same bond as the gang that stuck together to fight their way back to Coney Island.  I would recommend checking out this movie, it truly is a cult classic. I will end this article with Cyrus’ famous line from the movie, “Can You Dig It?”

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