Day 19 – Pennsylvania

June 25, 2010

Today began on the steps of the state capitol in Harrisburg, PA.  I was scheduled to meet Jack Cleary, Gold Star dad and father of Michael Killed in Iraq Dec 20, 2005. Just 9 days before my son Tony. Jack is a pillar of strength and it was truly an honor to spend some time with him sharing stories. I feel as if I connected to another family member and I know we will continue to reach out in the future. Back to the capitol steps, we were joined by his state representative Karen Boback, what a wonderful lady with an understanding heart, who truly “gets it”. Actually I found out she used to babysit Michael and watched him grow up. So she has a very special connection to the Clearys. We all walked down to the veterans memorial in from of the state house where I was able to present a personalized flag to Mr Cleary in a small but emotional ceremony.

Following the ceremony Rep Boback took us into the capitol building for a personal tour. Such history of that magnificent building. The original paintings depicting so much of Pennsylvania history are amazing. We were taken into the house chambers where the Speaker of the House read our visit into the permanent public record! Etching yet another place in the history of Honor and Remember. After which we were given the endorsement of the director of legislation that this remembrance flag would be written into PA law.  This day was immensely blessed.

As Alex and I were headed back to the car we received a call that the Governor had made himself available for our visit.  We rushed back to his office where he warmly welcomed us and even gave us a tour and explanation of the history in his office. After signing our pledge and taking a call from the world cup we thanked him and went on our way. A great day turned golden. Today we hit the 3,000 mile mark in our drive through 10 states.

Once Harrisburg was completed we headed west toward Pittsburgh for a 5 hour drive. We were invited to a small ceremony in Apollo, PA in honor of several Gold Star families. This was a part of the PA Heroes walk founded by Al Pulice. This past Memorial Day his group presented 5 personalized flags to local families. We arrived in Apollo around 530 pm and met Al and his team. There was a short ceremony where his walk team was introduced and a bench was dedicated to the the Gold Star Giordano family. Cindy had lost her son Michael in the war on terror and 14 months later her husband was killed in a car accident. There are so many terrible tragedies families must endure, it is truly heart breaking.

Tomorrow: PA Heroes Walk concludes with a scheduled walk and picnic Saturday in Apollo, PA.

Needs: Accommodations in Philadelphia/Valley Forge area for late tonight.

Blessings, George