“It’s More Than a Vacation:” The Meaning of Memorial Day
COLORADO SPRINGS – The Memorial Day long weekend is a time to enjoy the freedoms given to Americans by those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. But for the families of the dead, every day is Memorial Day.
A Gold Star family from Colorado Springs shared their loved one’s story with News5 on Friday. Tonya VanWinkle is a Coloradan native who served as an active duty army nurse and has lived around the world. She met her husband in Colorado Springs in 2004 and married soon after. “His name was Roderick, but he went by Rip. So that was Lt. Col. Rip VanWinkle… He just had so much integrity, and he was kind and very smart, and he was just one on one. million, ”Tonya said.
May 29, 2021 would have been Tonya and Roderick’s 17th wedding anniversary. “ALS, when you are diagnosed, is normally a two-year prognosis. He was diagnosed on March 14, 2018 and died on April 24, 2018. So just five and a half weeks later, ”Tonya said.
Tonya said her husband contracted ALS after being exposed to burners while deployed to Iraq. A focus is an area of a deployed military base where a fire is used to remove waste, and Tonya has said they are the cause of lasting health complications for many servicemen.
Tonya and Roderick have two young sons, Travis and Trevor VanWinkle. Their father served in Iraq before they were born. The two said they were grateful for getting to know their father as so many other children don’t have this opportunity. “Learn to accept that we’ll never be able to fix it, and it’s not our fault,” said Travis VanWinkle.
“For the families of our dead, every day is truly Memorial Day. And we want to make sure people understand that it’s more than a vacation to get out and enjoy a barbecue or something, that we we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our communities. “
Joe Lewis, CEO, Angels of America’s Fallen
Travis and Trevor are part of Angels of America’s Fallen, a non-profit organization that supports children of fallen service members and first responders nationwide. The aim is to involve children in positive activities, such as sports, music or the arts. Travis and Trevor play hockey as part of the program.
Angels of America’s Fallen CEO Joe Lewis said about 340 children are enrolled in the program across the country. There are almost 600 children on the waiting list. When children are registered and enrolled in the organization, the organization stays with them until the age of 19. The nonprofit is headquartered in Colorado Springs and serves more local children than anywhere else in the country. “I have lost friends in all branches, and he was always a great guy with small children, and that made me think about what we do for their children, and who encourages them, and who theirs. throws the ball, and that sort of thing. things, ”Lewis said.
Travis and Trevor will be among other kids to show off their talents at Angels of America’s biggest fundraiser, the Angel Gala. It is scheduled for June 19 at Broadmoor. CLICK HERE to learn more about fundraising.