Friday, April 23, 2010
Wounded Warrior Beach Retreat 2010
Dedicated mothers can always be depended on to work tirelessly in honor of their children, especially when that child has sacrificed selflessly above and beyond in the call of duty on behalf of a nation and strangers they'll never know. The dedicated mom I want to praise today and to share with everyone is my neighbor, Linda Cope, whose son Josh, a U.S. Army soldier, is a double amputee from his wounds in Iraq. Since Josh's return home and his recovery even to become a husband and dad, Linda has worked tirelessly to provide an annual beach retreat for wounded warriors from around the country. On Thursday evening, April 22, with the help of the Bay County, Panama City and PCBeach, Florida community, opening ceremonies for the 2nd annual Wounded Warrior Beach Retreat were held at First Baptist Church of Panama City. More than fifty wounded warrirors and family members were honored with full support and love from over 1000. Dave, I and 3 other Gold Star parents, Barb & Charlie Thompson, parents of SSGT Jacob Thompson, and Rose Jankowski, mom of Spec Charles Jankowski, were in attendance by special invitation at the ceremonies and recognized as were local Blue Star family members.
The evening's ceremony was breathtaking with the inspirational, indescribable santuary orchestra and choir performances of First Baptist Church. Posting of the Colors was presented by U.S. Army Color Guard from Ft. Rucker, Alabama and pledge to American Flag was led by Thomas McQueen, Life Scout, BSA Troup 321. First Baptist senior pastor, Dr. Craig Conner provided the welcome and prayer and morning host, Talk Radio 101.1 FM Burnie Thompson provided recognition of guests. County Commissioner Jerry Girvin gave the proclamation from Bay County honoring Philip and Linda Cope, founders of Warrior Beach Retreat, Inc. After the recognition of our Armed Forces through a musical salute and recognition of the wounded warriors and fallen through the song "I Salute You", U.S. Army (ret) Col Danny McKnight of BlackHawk Down was guest speaker. All I can say is that I'm so proud to have been in that audience to hear COL McKnight's words of honor for our military and to hear his testimony. The event was worth every tear of pride and the opportunity to later meet, hug and speak with the wounded warriors and their family members.
Today, Friday, begins day one with deep sea fishing and other events that Linda and Philip Cope and the Bay County Community have pulled together for these great warriors. The Cope's project is the only one of its kind thus far, and it is the Cope's dream to have other communities in our country begin such annual events to honor those who have sacrificed so much for our great country and others abroad.
Linda, if you read this, know that you have this mom's admiration and deepest gratitude for what you have been led to do. And never forget that we Gold Star Families will always be available to you and your cause, because your son and all our wounded warriors are also our children in heart and spirit.
To Pastor Conner and Mark McQueen of First Baptist Church, thank you for your open arms and willingness to support Linda and Philip Cope in their call that blessed so many of us on Thursday evening.
God bless this wonderful work that is a great example of what every day Americans can do to let our service members know they are not forgotten.