FAMILIES OF THE FALLEN
We gathered on the beautiful shores of Lake Powell to pay tribute to four families whose fathers and sons had given their life’s during service to our country. The families of the fallen warriors came aboard first, perhaps filled with some trepidation, none knew one another. None knew what to expect.
The big houseboat was quickly loaded with provisions for the adventure that was about to unfold before them. Gear safely stowed, the houseboat left her mooring place at Wahweap Marina and headed up the lake under the brilliant desert sun.
Only the families of the fallen and the vessels captain were aboard. A small flotilla of fishing and ski boats accompanied them on their three hour journey to the sandy beaches in Navajo canyon. The vistas are spectacular and soon all were on the top deck admiring some of the most beautiful scenery in North America. Sheer sandstone cliffs rose from the water’s edge. Each mile something new and marvelous to witness unfolded.
The boat securely anchored, the ANG chaplain offered a prayer, beseeching Gods protection to those gathered together here under the sheer walls of this breathtaking canyon.
The next three days were filled with boating, fishing, jet skiing and all of the myriad of activities this magnificent lake can provide. Each morning the volunteers arrived, a small flotilla of ski and fishing boats there only to share and thank these families for their sacrifice. For many of us, these were life changing moments. We mourned their loss, shared their tears and laughter and a new family was born at this gathering.
Each night on the beach the families would build a bonfire with gathered driftwood and talk together about their common experiences and share their loss. It is our hope that this was a catharsis and will help them through their mourning. To those of us who have never lost a child or a father in service can never understand their loss and emptiness. We can, however, hope that our efforts help even if in a small way will help.
Amongst the volunteers were battle hardened wounded warriors, a military Chaplain, staff members from the Army’s Service to Survivors organization, an Outdoor television show host, Staff members of Hand in hand Outdoor’s American Heroes Project and others, all bound together to share our respect and love to those who have given so much and to assure them that their children and their fathers did not die in vain and will not be forgotten .
An event like this takes a whole community to create. Individuals and organizations who care for those who wear our nations uniforms into battle and their families who give so much and the Families of the Fallen who have paid the ultimate cost. We will not forget them and at every opportunity we will share our love and respect for them, sharing our love for the outdoors and the peace it brings whether on high country lakes and streams or on the great waterways of the desert southwest. Perhaps with these events those that we serve will find peace and , as a gathered community will continue to be blessed for what we do.
This event was made possible by: Aramark, Toroweap Villas, Utah Elks Veterans Committee, Sportsmen for Warriors, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and all of the volunteers that gave of their time and skills. Thank you all.