On Memorial Day, my son and family, and members of my son’s Boy Scout troop attended and participated in welcoming the Shepherd’s Men to the final destination of their multi-day run at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Members of my son’s Boy Scout Troop and Venturing Crew in Snellville served in the Honor Guard, posting colors (flags) for the event. The Shepherd’s men are military veterans – both men and women – who raise awareness and funding to support veterans’ concerns, including those such as suicide, traumatic brain injury, and post traumatic stress disorder.
This year, the Shepherd Center in Atlanta was the final destination of the Shepherd’s Men Run that began in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the location where one of the airplanes from 9/11 went down. Their multi-day run that ended on Memorial Day was also in remembrance of and to honor civilians who lost their lives in that plane crash. The Shepherd’s Men each wore a 22-pound flak pack, symbolizing the 22 American veterans who commit suicide every day.
The welcoming ceremony included speakers who were wives and/or mothers of veterans, including the wife of a veteran who had traumatic brain injury and came to the Shepherd Center for treatment and the mother of one young soldier who tragically committed suicide without showing signs of being depressed or suicidal.
Other speakers at the event included administrators of the Shepherd Center as well as an Atlanta City Council member. There were also two singers who sang “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” to remember those who’ve died in service to our country. Many members of the Atlanta Police Department, including those mostly riding motorcycles, also provided an escort for the Shepherd’s Men as they arrived at the Shepherd Center.
The event was poignant, memorable, and sensitive to veterans and their families who are experiencing struggle with physical and mental illnesses, and those who have experienced personal loss and grief. It was nice to be present and be a supporter of this event and cause that is so important for the support of our veterans and their families.