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May 27, 2013

Memorial Day: What Can I Do?

While we've been remembering the true meaning of Memorial Day all weekend here at the HQ, the National Moment of Remembrance is officially at 3pm local time and is quickly approaching for us East coast Morons and Moronettes.

One comment I've seen repeatedly made by folks who don't have personal remembrances of lost loved ones or fellow servicemen is along the lines of "what can I do?"

As someone who's fortunate to have had all of his close relatives who have served return home, I'm in this boat myself.

I think most of the regulars here are highly cognizant of the fact that our freedoms have been paid for with the blood of our servicemen, and even if it's not directed at someone we knew, we hold them and their families in our hearts every day, not just one weekend a year.

But when I think of someone who asked "what can I do" and then set about doing something that really made a difference, I think of Zachary Fisher.

Zachary Fisher, with his brothers Martin and Larry, built a fortune as a real estate developer in New York City. That fortune has since been devoted to a wide variety of philanthropic initiatives, from supporting the New York Police Department to funding charitable projects in Israel. But the Fisher family, and Zachary himself, are best known for their extensive work on behalf of America’s military service members and veterans.


Throughout their lives, Zachary and his wife, Elizabeth, had an unusually deep respect for the men and women of the United States military. “It’s a privilege to live in this great country of ours,” Fisher said in an interview late in life. “I owe them.”

Zachary Fisher never served in the military. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he attempted to enlist in the Marine Corps. He was denied, however, due to a knee injury he sustained while working as a teenager on a construction site. Undeterred, Fisher volunteered his building expertise for civil defense, helping build coastal fortifications along the Atlantic seaboard.


Soon after the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, the Fishers offered an additional $10,000 to each of the families of fallen service members. Having come to the conclusion that the death benefits given to families of fallen military personnel were too low, the Fishers created the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. Its mission was to supplement the government’s benefits, in all future cases, with as much as $25,000 cash. The Fishers continued these efforts for more than two decades, closing the direct-payment program only after the federal government significantly increased the monetary benefits offered to the families of service members killed on active duty.

Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher are perhaps best known for launching the Fisher House Foundation. In 1990, Fisher learned about a service woman who had recently received medical treatment at a military hospital. Her husband, unable to afford a hotel, spent the duration of her hospitalization sleeping in his car. Fisher was shocked to learn that the military made no provision for the families of hospitalized veterans and service members—and he decided to do something about it.

Read the whole thing for an inspiring story of the difference one person can make in the lives of our military families, to whom we so much.

And if you're so inclined, please feel free to make a donation to the Fisher House Foundation.

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posted by Andy at 02:25 PM

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