Memorial Day is so much more than a federal holiday which translate into a paid day off from work. Observed every year on the last Monday of May,[originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers.
By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.
Continuing NASCAR’s long-standing tradition of honoring the United States Armed Forces, all 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will bore the name of a fallen service member on their race car windshields during Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
NASCAR Race Mom has her own hero’s name to remember.
Jimmy Lee Beckstrand was an audacious preteen in the late eighties, a year younger than my oldest son Moses and a year older than my youngest Zachariah. I remember the laughter as the three bounded through the doors looking for a drink of water after playing outside in the cul-de-sac for as long as they could under the warm California sun.
I have to laugh as I recall the night Jimmy and Zack spent the night in a makeshift tent they had pitched in our backyard grass. My husband Paul, waited till after midnight and after their giggly noise faded to creep outside and pretend to be a bear to scare them.
After high school, the three childhood chums set out to make their mark in the world in their own unique way. A few years later, I spotted Jimmy walking uphill towards his father’s house, dressed in his uniform. As I ran outside to say “hi,” I could not contain my awe and surprise. Jimmy Lee looked great and held himself with extreme confidence. I joked that his beloved roller blades would not be an acceptable fashion accessory for his current look.
That was the last time I spoke to Army Spc. James "Jimmy" Beckstrand. On April 29, 2004, during a four-month extension of duty, Jimmy and seven other soldiers from his unit, the 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division out of Baumholder, Germany, were killed when their convoy was attacked and a car bomb exploded near them. Jimmy Lee was just twenty-seven years old and a newlywed. He earned a Purple Heart medal for wounds received in action, and a Bronze Star medal for meritorious service and for his ultimate sacrifice.
NASCAR Race Mom is extremely grateful to all American citizens and businesses for remembering and honoring the true expense our military families pay to protect our rights and freedoms.