Honoring the word isn’t limited to the families and teammates of fallen heroes. It reaches out into all walks of life. Amazing people are everywhere helping to ensure these children are on the right “track” of life.
I had the opportunity to host one of the surviving children and his mentor, who was a teammate and very good friend of his father, at the Indy 500 this year. As you can imagine the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a busy place, especially on the weekend of the Indy 500. With my obligations and other commitments I was worried I wouldn’t have enough time to spend with the boy and his mentor. Randy Lamberjack and his family were so nice to make this whole deal happen. Randy told me “don’t worry, everything will work out just fine”. It’s great to have people like Randy so devoted to the Word of Honor, thanks Randy for all your help!!
Anyway, this boy was a little shy at first but during a conversation in our motorhome at the track I mentioned how my father was killed at Indy when I was just a year old, I think from that time on he realized that he wasn’t alone and that we were “on the same team”. I thoroughly enjoyed having them as my guests and we all had a great time together. After the race we went out on the track and he had the opportunity to “kiss the yard of bricks”: and check out the winners pit box. I feel like this boy, his mentor and myself developed a bond that is hard to put into words but a few sentences from an email sent to me after the race from his father’s teammate explains a lot.
“I do everything I can for him, and his little brother. I never told their mom but I gave my word to their father one night… Our team was set in an ambush position waiting on a mountainside for some savages that had ambushed and killed some army guys a few nights before. It was a strange night, very quiet. I remember feeling nervous about how quiet it was. That maybe we were spotted coming in to the area and we were getting set upon. A few hours went by and then I heard the father whisper my name. I turned my head and looked at him and nodded a “what’s up.” He didn’t say anything at first and I thought maybe he heard something. We stared at each other for a few seconds then he said, “He brother… if anything ever happens to me make sure that my boy is taken care of.” I said of course. No worries buddy. The rest of the night went as planned. That was in March of 03. The boy was 14 months old. Over the next 8 years and 5 months that my teammate lived that conversation never came up again. Thank you for helping me keep my word to my brother.”
This is what the Word of Honor is all about and why I am so honored to have had a small part in making this trip happen.
Sincerely, Johnny Unser