This spring we were a community in mourning, a community with a treasured son taken from us far too soon, a community who gathered with solemn hearts to say good-bye while the heavens delivered torrents of rain making us all wonder if the heavens knew what a heartbreaking day this was for the Village of Sag Harbor.
As with any loss, we have continued our daily lives, not forgetting Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter and paying tribute to his memory, each in our own way. This Saturday we all have an opportunity to honor Jordan in a truly substantive and vital way. Starting at 10 a.m. Soldier Ride, an organization that formed in Amagansett to aid the Wounded Warrior Project, will begin the East End portion of its Empire State Challenge — a trek from Amagansett to Montauk.
This event is tailored with the concept of being all-inclusive offering the athletic 62 and 35-mile cycling challenges, as well as a four-mile walking challenge. It is an opportunity to come together as a community and raise money in Jordan’s name for a cause he would surely support — providing assistance and encouragement for the men and women who have returned to our shores after serving overseas and are now facing life-changing injuries.
Supporting a program like the Wounded Warrior Project is the very definition of “supporting our troops,” no matter what one’s stance is on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wounded Warriors’ reach begins when many of our troops return to army medical centers like Walter Reed where they are greeted with backpacks filled with essential care and comfort items like toiletries, clothing, a CD player, and more — a seemingly small gift, but wholly important for someone returning home to a hospital, needing a sense of normalcy above all else.
But their effort does not end with toothbrushes and playing cards. Wounded Warrior has evolved to include outreach programs, employment support, advocacy, coping programs, rehabilitation programs like Soldier Ride — its reach is virtually endless and its benefits evident in the organization’s rapid growth over the last five years.
On Saturday, we will all have the opportunity to celebrate Jordan’s memory and name with his family and friends. More importantly we will have the chance to celebrate a better future for many servicemen and women who will come home under happier circumstances, but who still need our support.Â