This past weekend, Operation One Voice, a group that I have volunteered with for years had their 9/11 Remembrance Weekend. It was held at Lake Lanier Islands Resort outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I drove down on Thursday evening and stayed with a dear friend so that I could be at the golf course at 7 AM to help with set-up and preparation for the golf tournament. We had over 100 golfers come along with many current and former athletes to help the cause. It was truly amazing to sit and talk with so many of these veterans, current soldiers and citizens. Additionally, a few hours into the tournament, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with SGM Billy Waugh (U.S. Army – Ret) for a few hours. What an amazing man. For a bit of reference material please refer here. If you want the Readers Digest Version – Silver Star (1 award), Bronze Star (4 awards) , Purple Heart (8 awards) and many others… Yes, this man is not someone you want to mess with and he is one of the most ardent patriots I have ever had the honor of meeting.
After the golf tournament (which was a resounding success thanks to Laird Canby of Eagle Rock Distributors), I headed to the main resort to help set-up for the Cowboy Casino that evening. What a fun evening. It was truly inspiring to be around so many heroes. We look so often in the wrong places for heroes, but let me tell you, on Friday evening there was a surplus at Lake Lanier! How inspiring. We also had with us a group of Marines, Rangers, Police Officers and Firefighters that had just finished their Honor Ride from Fort Bragg to Duluth, GA. I had the opportunity to meet several of these amazing men and talk with them for a bit. I also had the chance to talk with several of the widows and children that Operation One Voice has helped over the years. Talk about humbling.
The next morning I left for an early run while the bicyclists who had ridden from Fort Bragg to Duluth met up with almost 60 more cyclists to complete the last leg of the mission. It was inspiring that as I was finishing my 18 miles of running, I saw the bicyclists approaching me from behind, so I stopped to cheer them along. Next thing I know, many of the ones who knew me were yelling for me! I was very touched! After running and showering, a couple of us proceeded to take some golf carts around the property. After our impromptu tour, we all proceeded to relax by the pool (well, most of us relaxed… a few Marines felt the need to make the rest of us look bad and proceeded to swim laps! At least they had a beer after!).
That evening, we all congregated and took the Eagle Rock Bus (Budweiser Bus!) to the Travis Tritt Concert… what concert you ask? Oh, the concert that Operation One Voice coordinated to raise money! The venue was PACKED! We then had the chance to meet Travis Tritt and listen to an awesome concert! We did not leave the venue until around 2 AM and arrived back at the resort around 3 AM… Long day, but absolutely awesome.
However, the most amazing part was yet to come. Sunday morning Operation One Voice held a Remembrance Service. The service began with the presentation of the colors, a bagpipe playing Amazing Grace, a prayer, and the ringing of a bell to signify the sacrifice of the firefighters who ran in when everyone else was running out. We then had the privilege of having Major General Mark Clark speak to us regarding 9/11, our military’s service and our changed America. It was a truly moving speech and I was very honored to spend such a momentous occasion with such an amazing group of patriots.
As I was driving home, it truly hit me that even though our Servicemen and women fight each day on the front to keep America free, we, as patriots back home have an equal duty to maintain freedom here, to keep those ideals that we were founded under strong and alive. To quote SGM Waugh “We will not forget 9/11, We can not forget 9/11.”
God Bless America,