Children of military parents have a different take about Memorial Day than others and Miami Dolphins second-year wide receiver Rishard Matthews is no different.
Of course offensive line coach Jim Turner also can relate having been in the military himself as an infantry officer in the United States Marines from 1990-94.
“He started off as a drill instructor and every time I went to work everybody called him ‘Top’ and that’s all I knew,” Matthews said. “I was young and everybody respected him so that definitely was good.”
Turner did tours in Europe, Japan and the Middle East during the first Gulf War and quickly moved up the ranks after displaying natural leadership skills early on. As his career progressed he was given more important responsibilities and handled them with ease.
It only makes sense because Turner’s father and uncle were in the Marines and he had some family members in the Army and the Navy, so he had a good idea he was going to follow in the same path. There were family members that fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
“I grew up with that history in my house everyday so it’s what I know,” Turner said. “It was normal for us to answer the call to duty when our nation called and until you change the law, if they say we’re going to war that’s what you do, you go to war. That’s it.”
Discipline and respect are two of the most important principles taught in the military, so it’s only natural that military parents pass those onto their children. Hearing Matthews speak is similar to hearing Carroll and Starks speak as he adds the moniker “sir” to the end of his sentences when addressing you. Like Carroll and Starks, he is humble and does not show a hint of ego.
Matthews is part of a generation that is familiar with war, as the United States has twice been involved in conflict in the Middle East in the last three decades. So he is well aware of the significance and the message that needs to be remembered on this day.
“I’ve got a lot of friends whose parents are in the military and I’ve got a lot of friends who are in the military so there is definitely a respect for them and what they do for us and this country,” said Matthews, who cracked the starting lineup near the end of his rookie season in 2012. “It was instilled in me at an early age that when you meet people it’s with a ‘yes, sir, yes, ma’am or no, ma’am.’ That’s definitely built into you as you’re growing up and you just earn respect for other human beings and for living in general.”
As a seventh-round draft pick, Matthews earned the respect of his Dolphins teammates and most importantly of Head Coach Joe Philbin and his staff right from the start. He went from a long shot to make the 53-man roster to becoming a pivotal contributor to the offense, taking the lessons taught to him by his father and feeding off of that drill instructor mentality.
So it’s on this weekend when Matthews and Turner, along with Carroll and Starks, can share a special bond and help spread the true meaning of Memorial Day to their teammates.