Veterans and Families Remembered

Story by Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht, Director of Public Affairs, Kentucky National Guard
Pictures by Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht and Maj. David Page, KYNG PAO

Remembering the Fallen.

Shawnna McAninch, wife of fallen Staff Sgt. Kenneth K. McAninch, watches races at Churchill Downs on November 6 as part of a Day at the Races for Survivors of Fallen Military Heros, sponsored by Chuchill Downs and Humana Military.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky (11/11/11) –Today is Veterans Day.

It’s a day that we, as a nation, set aside to honor military veterans; those who have served and are still serving.

This day is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

We remember those who are part of our history and those who are presently serving to protect our future. Being a Servicemember was never an easy job, but the Troops in today’s all-volunteer military chose to serve a cause greater than themselves; many made this decision knowing they may be sent in harm’s way.  For the better part of a decade they have endured multiple tours – protecting us from danger and giving others the opportunity to live life in security.

Some of them didn’t make it home and gave their lives for our country.

On Sunday, the families of Fallen Servicemembers from Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee were invited to the second annual Survivors Day at the Races.

This event was sponsored by Churchill Downs and Humana Military, both wanting to demonstrate their appreciation for the families of our Fallen and help them connect with each other.

Retired KY Air Guard Chief Master Sergeants Mark Grant and David Orange coordinated the event, contacting Fort Campbell, Fort Knox and Reserve Commands to notify families of Fallen Servicemembers.

“This was our second year for the Survivors Day at the Races and a heck of a turn out,” said Grant. “We had over 300 family members of the Fallen at Churchill, representing the active Army, Air Force and Marines, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve and the National Guard Servicemembers.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with others I have met these past few years and meet new families,” said Lynn Romans, mother of Kentucky Guardsman Sgt. Darrin Potter who was killed in Iraq in 2003. “It’s important for us to stay connected.”

Survivor's Day Quilt

A special quilt in honor of fallen military members was presented at Churchill Downs on November 6 during the 2nd Annual Day at the Races for Survivors of Fallen Military Heros.

This year’s Survivor Day at the Races unveiled the “Survivors of American Heroes” quilt made in memory of fallen Kentucky Troops and pays tribute to their families.

This fabric memorial was commissioned by the Kentucky National Guard’s Survivor’s Outreach Services as a symbol of the Guard’s dedication to the families of Soldiers and Airmen who have died in service to our nation.

Orange was also responsible for the quilt’s design.

“After attending the first Survivors Day Race, I thought there should be something that the families could actually touch and see, and that had some meaning to it,” said Orange.

According to Grant and Orange, the timing of the Survivors Day at the Races the week of Veterans Day was favorable coincidence.

“Showing these families that their loved ones won’t ever be forgotten is an imperative,” said Grant. “We are doing what we say we will do…taking care of the Servicemember  and the Servicemember’s family, even after they’re gone…having given the ultimate sacrifice to this country.”

Millionaire's Row

More than 300 military family members of fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines attended the 2nd Annual Day at the Races for Survivors of Fallen Military Heros at Churchill Downs on November 6, sponsored by Humana Military and Churchill Downs.

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