June 18, 2010
An incredible day as I woke up with an amazing view of the Worcester range of the green mountains of Vermont. Out my window looking west toward Camels Hump. The Grays are hosting us here and Marion has been such a blessing in making us feel like part of the family. She and Steve have a beautiful farm, with real Vermont maple trees! They are Gold Star parents and lost their son SSgt Jamie A. Gray ~ 7 June 2004 ~ Iraq. This is a terrible club we have all joined but it has the most amazing members anyone could ever meet.
This morning we had to move quickly out the door because I had made an early appointment with the state Adjutant general, MG Dubie. It was an hour drive and a very relaxed meeting as I shared the mission and received the generals support. He will be helping me to make contact with the TAGs from other states ahead.
Following this meeting we drove to Montpelier to meet with the Sec of Veteran Affairs, Clayton Clark then on to a meeting with Senator Doyle and a very important face to face meeting with Governor Jim Douglas. This is the second governor we have been able to meet and he enthusiastically signed our pledge of support.
About this time we were hungry and stopped for a nice lunch. Marion surprised me by taking us to granite industries of Vermont that was sculpting their granite statue for the amazing memorial they have planned for the Vermont Fallen Heroes. What I didn’t realize was that this company made all of the gravestones for Arlington Cemetery and I was able to meet Linda, who made the stone for my Tony and all the others from the War on terror. I honestly could hardly contain the emotion as I hugged the woman who has indirectly touched the lives of every grieving family.
From there we were taken to Rock of Ages Granite company, an incredible place which contains a huge rock quarry. Enough supply of granite for 4,000 years, so this was impressive. We were able to see how granite is mined, sculpted and polished. A truly amazing operation. The day concluded with a visit to Jamie’s gravesite, which happened to be on their own property. A solemn moment as we stood over his well maintained grave and listened to his proud mother recount story after story of his wonderful and amazing contribution to his family, his community and his nation.
An exhausting yet very rewarding day.
Tomorrow: Special ceremony at Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Randolf Center, VT, Furnace Rd. 3pm