Dennis Vacenovsky and Jake Varn were my Jr. High Football coaches. Life was good under their coaching and we went undefeated that year with high hopes that they would be our coaches throughout our time in school. Jake was from an old school Brooksville, Florida family and would later transition from education into a very successful law career. Dennis was from a Czechoslovakian immigrant family who, along with others settled north of Brooksville in Masaryktown.
Growing up with an immigrant community nearby was normal for us. The young men were great athletes, demonstrated excellent sportsmanship, leadership and were hard workers. The young women were beautiful, talented, intelligent and also hard workers. They made egg production with chicken farming look easy. (It wasn’t). My dad built a chicken farm, populated it with a few thousand chickens, put his boys to work, and my admiration of the kids of Masaryktown grew exponentially.
It was the 8th grade, I was 13 and the year was 1968 and the nightly news carried the news of Vietnam into every living room. Coach Vacenovsky answered the call and left coaching to serve our country. I can’t remember the exact timing, but I can remember the emotional loss when our community heard the news that he was killed in action when a mine exploded under his jeep.
Here is a link if you want to know more of this amazing man. https://www.hernandosun.com/A-life-of-service
Memorial Day for me is a time to reflect on my favorite coach.
The immigrant community that produced this fine young man wouldn’t embrace selfies and the fascination of self or the adoration of narcissi. On Memorial Day in an agriculturally based economy in rural Florida it would be a workday for the kids, especially the children of egg producers. As I perused Facebook on Sunday, I noticed a huge number of selfies, with little focus on Memorial Day and the focus of self. Today, I prefer abstaining from selfies and at least for a brief period of time to remember Coach Vacenovsky and others who gave themselves so we may live life in freedom from the addiction to self and the domination of tyranny.