Every Friday, in Carson City, Nevada, no matter if it is raining, snowing, or hot steaming sun, the family of CW2 Joshua Rodgers honours his memory by holding their own Red Shirt Friday walk. This specific walk was started by Joshua’s aunt and uncle, Susie and Mike McElfish.
This Friday – 30th May 2008 – marks the one year anniversary of CW2 Rodgers’ being killed as he served America. Joshua’s helicopter was shot down from the skies of Afghanistan. That day changed the lives of his wife, Casey, daughters Madison, Autumn, and Ashley and Joshua’s mum and step dad, Debby and Ben Walker, forever. Like so many Gold Star families, Joshua’s family decided to honour his sacrifice by action. So was born the idea that they would use the symbol of remembrance and honour: Red Shirt Friday.
The immediate family began this regular walk last September. Begun with maybe just 5 people walking, now it has grown to include friends and others who support our troops. Some days as many as 45 supporters join the walk. The group proudly fly their American flags high, and wave to supporters who honk their car horns as they drive by.
As Don Lindsay, a supporter who shows up every week to walk with this family, says:
“…Uncle Mike is the moving force behind the walk, but we stand in line to hug Debbie, she is an awesome woman, we just love her. Casey is so very gracious and never fails to thank everyone with a hug at the walks she is able to attend. Madison, Autumn and Ashley chant “HONK YOUR HORN” to passing cars and squeal with delight when someone does…..for the whole two miles…lol…”
Don Lindsay tells me that there are special things planned for this anniversary. There may even be a flyover of Chinook helicopters! Many in the community are getting involved to mark this special anniversary.
As Joshua’s mum, Debbie Walker, said when the walk was in its infancy:
“…”He always had a strong sense of duty. …He delayed entry into the military in the 11th grade. He loved the infantry, … after 9/11, he just really felt that sense of duty. We never tried to influence him, it was just what was in his heart,”…
Every Friday, Americans in Carson City open their hearts for Joshua and his family. This Friday will be no exception as they observe this anniversary.