Within three days in July 1863, more than 50,000 Americans died at Gettysburg; very few who were injured in that battle lived to go home. Perhaps that explains the extraordinary generosity of that community hosting injured military veterans and their families during a weekend of snowsports organized and conducted by Blue Ridge Adaptive Snow Sports (BRASS) at Liberty Mountain Resort. The weekend began Friday night with a group meal at General Picketts Buffet donated by the Gettysburg American Legion Post and BRASS. Quality Inn Gettysburg provided lodging and breakfasts. The historic Gettysburg Hotel provided a banquet Saturday night. Funding from Disabled Sports USA, BRASS and Liberty Mountain Resort supported the majority of the activities.
There was little time free time to explore the battlefields or the historic town because the warfighters were eager to travel to Liberty Mountain Resort in Fairfield, Pa. about 20 minutes south of Gettysburg. Our modern warriors and family members were paired with instructors, received any needed special equipment and lift tickets, and were off to the heights. The snowmaking guns had been working all night and the trails were all open, well groomed. There were a few flurries and peeks of sun during the weekend and the overcast skies kept the surface firm and the air brisk but not brutally cold.
Many of the warfighters had skied or snowboarded with us previously and greeted us warmly. The warriors are stronger, more skilled and better adjusted every time we see them. We cannot say enough about the instructors and other BRASS volunteers who donate their time and skills to put these events together. The main organizer was Meredith Peace who worked closely with Leslie and Dick White, the directors of BRASS. Tom, Trippi and David Penland -- our longtime neighbors and close friends -- are all instructors and worked tirelessly to make the weekend a success. Other volunteers included Chi Pham, Kim Keller, Amanda Lopez, Jeff Brown, Mike McGee and many others.
As many times as we have been to Liberty, we always meet special people, both visitors and staff. This weekend we struck up a conversation with Tami Scannell on the Mountain Safety Patrol and found out that she had been a member of the U.S. Ski Team for six years! We also met Liberty's "employee of the week," who is not only a very popular instructor at age 86, but a retired Marine General and former Operations Director of the Military Joint Chiefs of Staff. Phil Shutler is still a Marine in spirit, body, and dedication. General Shutler gave a moving speech to the warfighters and their families at the Saturday banquet. He is an example of the continued contribution of service by all these warriors to our nation. Activities like this weekend are becoming less celebratory events and more routine, but we need to remember that military service always involves sacrifice. Let us continue to honor each veteran by making sure that they have a continued opportunity to prosper in the society they fought to protect.