Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Memorial Day is more than hot dogs and picnics.

     U.S. Army veteran Tim Murray was walking with his young sons Alex and Matthew. But it wasn't a day at the park or a hike in the woods. Murray was at the Highland Memorial Park cemetery in Pottstown along with other volunteers helping place United States flags on 1,900 graves of veterans. I snapped some candid photos of dad and the boys as they went about their business.
     There was no whining by these youngsters. They took a real interest in doing their part a week before Memorial Day. The guys could have been anywhere on this day - playing baseball, fishing or simply wrestling around and laughing together in the warm soft grass.
     But on May 19th there was more serious duty at hand. One that could teach his boys a valuable lesson for their future.
U. S. Army veteran Tim Murray and his sons Matthew and Alex.
      After snapping the shot for the front page, I stopped the family and asked why it was so important to take part. He answered me saying he wants the boys to know what Memorial Day is really about. With an easy going presence, Murray quietly stated, "It's not about hot dogs and picnics. The holiday is about veterans who fought for their country. We are here to honor them by placing flags on their graves."
     Murray is active in the community with the American Legion, the V.F.W. and is also a Boy Scout leader for his son Alex's Cub Pack 244. He was in the U.S. Army from 2004-2008 with the 4th Infantry Division and spent seven and a half months deployed in Baghdad, Iraq.  
     Then, thinking for a moment he didn't realize the date was May 19 until we started talking. On the same day in 2006 a military truck he was riding in was blown up by an IED while fighting in Iraq. Luckily, he wasn't injured but it's a date he won't forget.
     Alex and Matthew stood quietly by his side as he spoke and listened to every word. He looked down and pointed to his youngest son Matthew saying he was too small to know that he had gone away with the Army. But his older boy Alex was four and he remembers when his dad left for war. He looked up at his father and silently shook his head yes.
     I didn't press the little boy for details, but you could tell he had some thoughts swimming in his head. Murray is one of the lucky ones who made it out of the fight alive and able to get back to life with his family.
     We shook hands and I watched as they continued on their walk of honor.

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