The Epoch Times | By Joshua Philipp
For Father’s Day, military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty are writing letters to their fathers, and paying respects to the sacrifices they made and the legacies they left behind.
Jacob Rangel, scholarship administrator at the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, says the Father’s Day letters will never be sent, but by putting their words in writing, children of fallen servicemembers can express what their fathers meant to them.
The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation works to provide scholarships to military children who lost a parent in the line of duty. Since its founding in 2002, the foundation has given close to $22 million to 1,100 students.
Before his current role in the foundation, Rangel was a recipient of one of its scholarships. His father was Air Force Staff Sergeant Ray Rangel, a firefighter in Iraq with the 7th Civil Engineer Squadron. While he was on deployment, the elder Rangel was sent to save the lives of two soldiers who were trapped in a Humvee that had overturned in a canal, when his lifeline snapped and he was carried off downstream.
Jacob Rangel said he was 9 years old on the morning when the airmen in dress blues arrived at his family’s door to tell them they couldn’t find his father. “Originally, I just kind of kept thinking he’s just deployed still; he’ll come back eventually,” he said. But when his father’s body was recovered for the funeral, “it finally hit me that my dad was actually gone.”
“I’m still proud of what he did,” Rangel said. “And even though there’s nothing I can change about it, I can still keep his memory alive and keep pushing forward.”
According to Chris Petrakos, a Navy veteran and development officer of the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, the initiative for Father’s Day is to “bring awareness out there to all Americans, so they understand the type of service that’s going on,” and to “help people know of the sacrifices the families made.”