News From Terre Haute, Indiana

On & Off the Course

August 16, 2008

On and Off the Course: We can honor fallen heroes on Patriot Golf Day

I’m always glad when I can report something that is happening in the golf world that is really wonderful and beneficial to many. In this case that item is called “Patriot Golf Day 2008.” Patriot Day begins Aug. 29, and goes through Sept. 1. During that time, golfers nationwide will be asked to donate a minimum of $1 in support of Patriot Day at participating golf courses. All proceeds go to the Folds of Honor Foundation to provide educational scholarships to families of disabled or and soldiers who died fighting for their country. More than $1 million dollars was raised through the 3,200 golf facilities in 2007.

The Folds of Honor Foundation was founded by PGA Professional Day Rooney, who also happens to be an F-16 fighter pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard. He was deeply affected one day when he was the passenger on a flight that had carried home a fallen soldier from Iraq. As the pilot landed that plane, he made this announcement: “We have the remains of Corporal Brock Bucklin on board, and his brother Corporal Brad Bucklin has accompanied him home from Iraq. As a sign of respect, please remain seated while we honor Corporal Bucklin and his sacrifice.”

Major Rooney watched through the plane window as the flag-covered casket was removed from the rear cargo hold. He saw the family meet the procession with tears streaming down their cheeks, and he choked back emotion when he saw the fallen soldier’s young son clutching his mother’s leg. Major Rooney had served two tours in Iraq, and had seen the harshness of war on the frontlines, but this was the first time he had experienced the devastating reality back home. Turning away from the window and back to the plane, he noticed that half of the passengers had ignored the pilot’s request and had already disembarked. That moment changed Major Rooney’s life. He made a vow to make a difference. Though he couldn’t change the fate of a fallen soldier, he could do something to help the future of the grieving widow or a fatherless child. He set out to prove to America’s heroes — our military personnel — that their sacrifices would never go unappreciated. He founded Folds of Honor to ensure that families of the fallen must never endure alone. He felt that education was the key to a brighter future, so the main goal of the foundation is to offer scholarships to spouses and dependents to attend the university or institution of their choice.

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