May 30, 2011

Never Forget

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Meet Matthew Perkins, one of several US Marines I had the honor of spending some time with this past weekend.

Matthew proudly sports this tattoo honoring the life and sacrifice of his comrade in arms, CPL Christopher G Scherer, USMC. Chris was killed in Iraq on July 21, 2007 by a sniper’s bullet. You can read Chris’ story here.

Christopher’s family keeps his spirit and energy alive through “Team Chris,” a foundation that provides material support to our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Each Memorial Day weekend, Team Chris puts on the “I Did the Grid” road race, a 4 mile run through the East Northport, NY neighborhood where Chris grew up, played and (yes) raised hell. Each year, Matthew and a few other Marines from Chris’ Band of Brothers come to the race to run in honor and remembrance of Chris.

During the pre-race announcements, runners and walkers are reminded of a recent survey in which 8 out of 10 people confess to not knowing the meaning of Memorial Day. To most, it’s the start of summer — The day the pool opens. At this race there is no doubt. Everyone present knows the meaning of Memorial Day.

Each runner and walker who does The Grid carries the names of three service men or women who gave their lives serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each participant is encouraged to finish the race in their honor.  After the race, local Gold Star families are recognized for their sacrifices in a sobering ceremony.

What’s a Gold Star family, you ask?  It’s a family that knows — first hand — the cost of freedom. It’s a family that has a simple Gold Star banner hanging in their window. If you see one, don’t hesitate to acknowledge it. Don’t be afraid to give your thanks. It will be appreciated.

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Thank you Tim, Janet, Tim, Katie and Meghan Scherer, for your sacrifice. And thank you for helping us to remember.

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