In every interview we have done, the question, “Why do you do what you do?” comes up. It seems so simple to us….because they do what they do!
Of the thousands of careers a person can choose, only a few puts your life in peril on a daily basis. Whether it is a Police, Fire Fighter or an Armed Forces uniform, these people choose to serve and protect the freedoms we all enjoy daily. It is not a job that just anyone can do, but in the time of need…those are the people we all rely on.
With 9/11 Patriotism was revitalized, but with time it starts to wane. It is way to easy to say they chose this job, or they get paid for what they do. Ask a Gold Star family whether the pay is equivalent to the loss!
When we started Hero’s Rock, we did not have an active military member in our family. Both of our fathers served; Scott’s father served in World War II, My father served in the Korean War and my brother served in Vietnam. We now have a son-in-law who serves and our dear neighbors children both serve. Even if you don’t have someone in your immediate family serving, you know some one who does.
The men and women of our military are not our neighbors children…..they are OUR COUNTRY’S CHILDREN! When a soldier serves, the family serves! Enduring long periods of separation, often waiting to celebrate holidays and birthdays when their loved one returns. They experience a roller coaster of emotions as the nightly news tells of tragic events, frantically waiting to hear of their loved ones. Sadly the news too often tells us of loss. The risk is always implied, but when it happens it is a horrific shock. It is a nightmare no family should endure.
As civilians, our hearts break for these families often wishing there was something we could do. The same is true for us! On May 26, 2011 we heard the story of an American Apache Pilot, CW2 Christopher Thibodeau, who was killed in action in Afghanistan one week after learning he was to become a father. The news of loss seemed to be coming way too often lately, but this story stopped us in our tracks. The thought that this baby would never get to met his father because he was killed fighting for our freedoms was overwhelming.
How do you say, “I’m sorry for your loss to a child?” We both realized that maybe the gifts we had recently found were given to us for a reason. Maybe a special gift would bring the child some joy in a time of sorrow and would remind him of who his father was and what he stood for, showing others cared about his loss. We set out to build an Apache helicopter rocking horse that included a laser portrait of his hero along with his service title engraved into the bottom.
We were just two people who wanted to do something! People from across the country donated money to helps us make this happen. We shared photos on Facebook as we set out to make this rocker, inviting all who donated, family and friends to watch as it progressed. When it came time to be painted and apply the final touches, we used a military term “blackout”.
We stopped showing pictures and invited friends and family to share stories of Chris’ life. It was a beautiful and touching period which made us feel even closer to this family. At one point, Chris’ mother Doreen Thibodeau shared with us that in the week that Chris knew he was to become a father, he said he wanted to build his baby a rocking horse. Tears filled our eyes as we realized we had fulfilled this father’s wish!
With that first delivery, we realized we were doing what we were meant to do! But, it would be years before we realized just how much the entire journey meant to the whole family! What was even more amazing was the outpouring of appreciation from other military families, so touched to hear that civilians cared!
As we go about our busy daily lives, it is easy to over look how lucky we are to have such an amazing military family taking care of us. Our military families are spread out across the country. We hope this “Thank You” Tour will show our military families that we are all thankful for their service and sacrifice and hope to spread love as we deliver these Patriotic Pony rocking horses to Fisher Houses across the Western United States!
Join us on this amazing journey as we all come together to show our appreciation. Sometimes a simple thank you can mean so much!
They have our backs every day…..let’s show them we have theirs!
Scott & Trish Snyder