For Love of the Games
The National Veterans Golden Age Games are all about camaraderie, competition and medals. Hundreds of veterans traveling from across the country care about little else than winning their events and taking home the gold.
Well, now that’s not always the case. Take for example the following story that began last year at the Hawaii Games and made it all the way to St. Louis one year later.
Army logistics and maintenance officer James Paul McGuier retired in 2007 after serving his country for more than 40 years. His eyesight deteriorating, McGuier got turned on to the Golden Age Games and competed in his first in 2010. The following year, he was excited about his second Games in beautiful and exotic Hawaii. Part of team Indiana, McGuier was in the hotel lobby talking about the day’s events with one of his teammates when his life—unbeknownst to him—changed forever with a simple hello.
During this fateful conversation, the sister of McGuier’s teammate, Jackie Pope, came back from a shopping trip. They briefly met for the first time, and, as they say, the rest is history.
“My brother was kidding me that year about going to Hawaii with him,” Rebecca recalled. “I was a recent widow and not doing too well. My life changed so much (at the Games). I’m doing so good now.”
If you guessed that James, 65 and Rebecca, 69 met, fell in love and were married, you’re absolutely right. And after returning home from the Hawaii Games, they realized that for years they were living just 49 miles apart –James in Indianapolis and Rebecca in Morgantown.
James had met Pope briefly at the Richard L. Roudebush VA in Indianapolis prior to the Games, but he didn’t know at the time he even had a sister. But that week in Hawaii, it all fell into place.
“I really got to meet her the first time at a luau when my coach suggested I talk to her,” James explained. “I asked her out that night to go on a dinner cruise, she agreed, but only if her brother would chaperone.”
The two were married in Florida on May 1 and are using the St. Louis Golden Age Games as a honeymoon, reunion and vacation all wrapped into one.
It’s really just fate, or divine intervention perhaps, that James and Rebecca met that afternoon 5,000 miles from home in Hawaii. James stayed in Indianapolis after retiring from the Army instead of returning to his home state of Pennsylvania. Had he returned home, he never would have met Jackie Pope, and likely, would have never met his sister that week in Hawaii.
James and Rebecca today split their time between Indiana and Florida. They both agree they couldn’t be happier and their story illustrates what is possible when Veterans and their families get together each year at the Golden Age Games.
After all that, what exactly was it that attracted Rebecca to James during that week in Hawaii? Rebecca said she just kept running into James in the lobby that week. Looking over at James, she added, “You just had a nice voice.”