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Patriotism making a difference for families of fallen military heroes

February 10, 2016
By ROBERT SIMPSON , Lehigh Acres Citizen

As a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War and strong supporter of all branches of the military, the importance of patriotism and honoring the service and sacrifice of our soldiers will forever hold a special place in my heart. There are countless families in Southwest Florida with loved ones who have or are currently serving our country, and some have experienced the heartbreak of losing a loved one in the line of duty. Very recently, the Southwest Florida community lost a young marine, Cpl. Thomas Jardas from Fort Myers, who was among 12 Marines killed when their helicopter crashed over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii.

I believe that as a community, we have an opportunity to rally and show our support for local military and to honor our fallen military heroes, and I invite you to take part in a very special service, honoring another local fallen soldier, the late Capt. Daniel William Eggers of Cape Coral.

On Feb. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., our LeeSar community will host The American Fallen Soldiers Project luncheon, honoring Eggers who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2004 during his second tour of duty with the U.S. Army when his Humvee struck a land mine. Hailing from a family with a long line of military service, his accomplishments during his time of service are remarkable. In addition to earning his Green Beret and becoming fluent in Arabic, he has also been awarded two Bronze Star Medals, one adorned with a "V" device to designate valor, the Purple Heart, and a U.S. military base in Kabul, Afghanistan was renamed Camp Eggers in his honor after his passing.

We are of good fortune to live in a country of freedom, and we owe this to those who have dedicated their lives to providing us with this liberty. We are indebted not only to the members of the military, but also the families on the home front that continue to share and support their loved ones and mourn for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The American Fallen Soldiers Project honors fallen military by presenting grieving families with a portrait to memorialize their loved ones. This organization has presented approximately 200 portraits since its inception in 2007, capturing the spirit and memory of fallen soldiers and bringing joy to families across the country. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a previous portrait presentation by The American Fallen Soldiers Project, and I witnessed the impact this event has on grieving families of soldiers.

When I learned about Eggers, I immediately felt compelled to take action to commemorate his memory, celebrate his life and support the family that grieves the loss of this special man. My thoughts were drawn to our wonderful Southwest Florida community, and the compassion that our people exude for servicemen and women. What better way to recognize the service of our fallen soldiers, than by comforting their families and loved ones? The American Fallen Soldiers Project luncheon on Feb. 11 at Harborside Event Center will celebrate Eggers, and pay tribute to the members of our U.S. military. With many of his family members in attendance at the event, Eggers' parents, Bill and Margaret Eggers, will receive an original portrait of their soldier, created by artist and founder of The American Fallen Soldiers Project, Phil Taylor.

We encourage you to join us to commemorate a young man that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and to honor all those who have served, and fallen. We have the unique opportunity to make a positive difference in the life of a Southwest Florida family, and we look forward to seeing the many ways that our community will come together to show support for past, present and future members of the military. Those interested in learning more or registering for the event are invited to visit www.AmericanFallenSoldiersProjectSWFL.org.

Robert Simpson is the president and chief executive officer of LeeSar.

 
 

 

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