Memorial Day 2018: Honoring Heroes We’ve Lost

Memorial Day serves as a reminder that freedom comes at a cost. Throughout our history, thousands of brave individuals have selflessly sacrificed their lives in defense of our nation. As we gather with family and friends to enjoy the long weekend, let us pause to recognize these remarkable heroes and remember that each leaves behind their own circle of loved ones.

Our newest program, Snowball Express, celebrates our fallen military heroes and supports those left behind. We’d like to introduce you to a few of our families:

US Navy Lieutenant Florence B. Choe joined the military just days after the 9/11 attacks. While serving in Afghanistan in 2009, Florence was killed by an Afghan soldier. She left behind her husband, US Navy Lieutenant Commander Jay Choe and their daughter, Kristin. Jay says, “Florence was more beautiful than any tangible form of beauty as her kindness and love radiated and knew no bounds.” Participating in Snowball Express has allowed Kristen and Jay to create a new kind of family, one full of survivors that share a bond from one another’s loss.

US Army Private First Class Jesse Givens enlisted in the Army after the attacks of 9/11, determined to make the world a better place. On May 1, 2003 while on deployment in Habbaniyah, Iraq, Jesse’s M-1A1 tank fell into the Euphrates after the river bank collapsed. He did not make it home. Jesse’s wife, Melissa, and two sons, Dakota & Carson, have found a sense of relief through their participation in Snowball Express. It allows them to heal with other children and families that feel the same loss.

US Army Sergeant First Class Ofren Arrechaga joined the military in February 2001 and served admirably for 10 years having earned several high honors including a Bronze Star Medal and an Army Commendation Medal. He was known for being upbeat and finding joy, even in dire situations. While on his fourth combat tour in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan, Ofren died on March 29, 2011 during a battle with the enemy. Ofren is remembered by his wife, Seana, and children, Alston & Tristian, for his contagious smile and dedication to his family. The connections made with surviving spouses and children through their participation in Snowball Express provides not only a support system during the hard times, but also life-long friendships.


All weekend long, the Gary Sinise Foundation will be participating in events and programs that honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

This Sunday, Gary will join his pal Joe Mantegna to co-host The National Memorial Day Concert on the lawn of the Capitol for a twelfth time. And this year, joining a star-studded lineup, Gary will bring the Lt. Dan Band for a special live performance airing Sunday, May 27, 2018 on PBS at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
Gary will also join families of our fallen military heroes on the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Snowball Express float, which will be featured in the National Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 28, 2018 at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT. Watch live or find your local station.
Carry The Load, a non-profit that provides an active way to honor and celebrate our nation’s heroes, will be raising money in support of the Gary Sinise Foundation. All month long, participants have been marching routes up and down the Coasts. This weekend, the marchers will converge in Dallas to honor our heroes.

In case you missed it...

Gary was featured on The Mark Levin Show a few weeks ago discussing his childhood, acting, supporting our defenders & their families, and ultimately the decision to create the Gary Sinise Foundation.

2017 Hurricane Relief

We’re thrilled to announce Snowball Express is now an official program of the Gary Sinise Foundation! More details will follow, but rest assured we will expand on this program’s important work while maintaining their many wonderful traditions.

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