This was day 2 without water in Chattanooga which seemed ironic since we were passing out waters all week before, now everyone needed it. I noticed places the previous night that had plenty of water, but it would or could reach a critical level of need. I decided to purchase an additional 120 Little Debbie snacks and 4 more cases of water to pass out.
This day I was bringing 2 of my boys, Owen and Everett who are 7 and 5 to help. The first time they went with Daddy they made peanut butter and jelly and passed out waters. When your children assist you must always be considerate of their needs, and I knew they could be very helpful when I was in town. They got to see what helping people is all about and I hope to teach them to be responsible in their communities for others in need.
It didn’t take long to efficiently disperse what we had. The cooler only holds so much water and ice so when I refill it for a second time that batch is not as cold. I always feel that I could do better. We would need a much larger cooler or just have the city put in water fountains.
My aim is to make common sense application to implement particularly useful and impactful tools for improved daily life. We can simply install water fountains, public restrooms, and public showers on many different levels. Either temporary or permanent, on a case by case or first come basis. There are a multitude of simple, quick, and relatively inexpensive solutions that are proven.
Until these things are started, the best option is some way is to hand out water in plastic bottles and bagged food from a truck.
Waking up on the 12th meant taking down the flag from the main sign. I wanted people to see the flag flying and know the 9/11 victims and Fallen 5 were not forgotten. Once up I went to remove the flag by driving there in the Blazer of Glory, but the shifter broke when I went to back up. Once realizing what just happened I decided to walk to the main sign. Since we slept in the park it was not too far of a walk. I actually enjoyed the walk early in the morning to retrieve the flag. In the dawn’s early light, the flag was still there!
We took a couple pictures of the flag hanging and then folded it up for next year. Each time the flag was folded this year someone learned how and I got practice too! Flag raising and folding is important process and holds respectful meaning in each fold. To fold a flag one must take great care with each fold because you must reach the end with enough excess and have formed a perfect triangle.
After folding the flag, the humbling walk back in front of the building where the men lost their lives gave me time to think about their last moments. I am still here with a mission and they left while on their mission. Picking up the flag and carrying it on is all of our duties and we each do it differently.
Getting back to the truck I figured out what we could do to get a cable made as soon as possible. The part that broke was critical. I called Hudlow Axle and they recommended Hydraulic Supply Co. in Chattanooga and they were able to make a custom cable before the end of the day. We decided to go shopping and get more supplies for making burritos again. The people requested them as they are filling and easily eaten.
After getting the cable and food I set to work fixing the truck and adapting the plans for the day. I forgot some small bags and needed ice for the cooler. Once back at the truck I set up a cooking station for 96 eggs and 50 burritos with cheese! My little fold up table and Coleman grille were ready to cook 6 eggs at a time and package up the food as quickly as possible. After 2 to 3 hours of cooking I was exhausted and it was dark. I got to work before looking at the clock, but it took much longer than I anticipated. The pups and I were ready for bed!
This morning’s sunrise was especially beautiful! The morning changed from dark, to a light orange and pink sky which shone brighter as the day awoke. The buzz and roar of life began and another day started for the Fallen 5 Drive.
I was quite sore by this time since I was not prepared to run and sleep in hard places. Doing a new physical fitness program combined with sleeping on the ground and vehicles was a new level of soreness for me. Despite the soreness, stretching and a little ibuprofen went a long way.
After a few days of being in the streets, we realized there were more needs beyond food and water. We began planning a list of hygiene items we could purchase and put together and pass out for people. In addition to giving food we wanted to provide a level of care in which people could feel more comfortable.
For food we planned on cooking eggs scrambled with cheese and wrapping into a burrito. We got 60 eggs, 40 tortillas, and a couple pounds of cheese. We picked up another 4 cases of water to pass out as it was going to be hot for the next few days. It was quite a bit of work as we cooked, wrapped, and packaged the food. As we drove around passing out water and food, we asked what more needs were and so we planned to make a trip to the store for toothpaste, toothbrushes, wipes, band aides, alcohol pads, and other items.
By now I began to recognize certain people and they knew us as well. Often as I drove around town, my new friends would wave or say hi! It felt good to be doing good for others. The opportunity to do good for others is possible if we simply choose to do something. This simple mission has created so much joy and value. It was a great day to honor the Fallen 5!