To the Editor:

Harrybrooke Park held its inaugural Who Are You Carrying event May 28. The event paid special tribute to honor the life and service of Petty Officer First Class Jason D. Lewis.

Jason D. Lewis was a Brookfield resident who was killed in combat on July 6, 2007, in Baghdad. He left behind a wife and three children. His Gold Star mother Jean Mariano was at the event to help celebrate her son’s life as well as the lives of so many others who have died for our country.

Participants in the event did a hero workout of the day and on the back of their shirts wrote in the name(s) of their hero they were paying tribute to.

“It’s kind of hard to give up during this workout, even though my body is tired”, shared one athlete. “I just look over at Jason’s mom and I am quickly reminded about all they have sacrificed.”

It was comments like those that I heard throughout the morning and I want to thank each and every participant for supporting this event by giving 100 percent of their personal best. It was so awesome to see.

Additional thanks go to the following businesses and people who are wonderful friends to Harrybrooke and deserve recognition for sponsoring this event: Giggles & Gowns Photography, Osborne Land Management Services, Deer & Tick Guard, Hammerhead Martial Arts, J&C’s Snack Shack, KEE Limousine CT, Bakewell & Mulhare LLC, Marandola Fuel Service LLC, East Coast Carpet Cleaning, Cramer & Anderson LLP, New Milford Democratic Town Committee and the Republican Town Committee.

Many volunteers helped ensure the success of this event and to list them all would be a difficult task.

I would, however, like to pay special thanks to those who sat on the committee to help organize: Lydia Pantry, Steve Sand, Paula Muhlfeld, Aaron and Deanna Machado, Lee Colville, Kurt Fabische and Billy Buckbee.

To everyone who helped out the day of, I thank you all for giving your time. The event simply could not have run without all of you.

I would like to thank those who helped to make the flag ceremony a very special part of the event: Steve Sand, for running the flag in from the park entrance, and the Patriot Guard for providing his escort and flags for our flag line; the Minute Men Riders for providing a beautiful flag line; and flags provided by Rob Gallacher from Help Our Military Heroes.

Thank you to the Bethel Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps for leading the Color Guard Ceremony; to Phair Haldin, for singing our national anthem so beautifully; special appreciation to Mayor David Gronbach for honoring the event with an opening speech; and to State Representative Billy Buckbee for speaking.

Thank you to Laurie from Help Our Military Heroes for talking about the true meaning of Memorial Day and why we are all connected, and thanks to my right-hand man, Billy Mo, for all of your help leading up to the day as well as being my “internal clock.”

Lastly, thank you to Jean Mariano for giving us all the honor and privilege of celebrating your son. Thank you for raising a true hero. The service can teach many valuable lessons, but the true strength of a person’s character is also developed by how they were raised. That, my Gold Star mama, came from you.

Our mission is to serve the greater New Milford area communities at no cost to the town or its taxpayers; we do this through fundraising through events such as this.

The true mission of this particular event was to bring the community together to remember those who didn’t come home, those who gave their lives for our freedoms.

We were also happy to be able to give a donation from the profit of the event to another nonprofit, HOMH, which is dedicated to delivering adaptive vans to our wounded and injured military heroes.

On behalf of the board of managers, Friends of Harrybrooke and the staff here at Harrybrooke Park and Harden House, we thank all who attended, gave their very best, and above all, thank you for remembering what Memorial Day is truly about.

Valerie Walsh

Assistant Director

Harrybrooke Park & Harden House Museum

New Milford