Another school year is in the books. It was a good year here at IRCS. In fact, I would say it was a great year. We were able to celebrate an incredible amount of successes with our students and teachers. (The year’s successes will be another blog at another time. Now that school is out I have more time to write.) One of our annual end of the year activities with the teachers is post planning. This is where we debrief the year and begin strategizing for the next year. We always want to improve and be the best school that we can be for our students and their families. One of the traditions during this time is that on one of the days, we provide a lunch for our whole staff. Today we had our staff lunch catered by Frankies Patriot BBQ. So you may be asking, “Why is this important enough to write about?” I’m glad you asked, let me tell you.
Frankies Patriot BBQ is owned by Craig and Toni Gross. It is located at 6250 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater. Their restaurant was founded in memory of their son, Corporal Frank R. Gross who was Killed In Action on July 16, 2011 while serving his country in Afghanistan. This gets even more personal for us as Frankie was a Class of 2004 graduate here at Indian Rocks Christian School. A year later another member of the Class of 2004 was Killed In Action when Staff Sergeant Matt Sitton died in Afghanistan.
Through the years, I don’t think I ever really grasped the significance of patriotic holidays or the true meaning of Memorial Day. I was like many who viewed Memorial Day as a day off of school and later a day off of work as well as the beginning of summer. In the past few years that all changed for me when Frank and Matt died. Frank was killed after serving just one month in Afghanistan. Matt was killed one month before he was set to return from his third tour. Both were outstanding baseball players for the Golden Eagles. Frank set all of our baseball pitching records and Matt all of our hitting marks. Both went to the Dominican Republic on a baseball mission trip twice during high school. I had the privilege of handing both of them their high school diploma and giving the congratulatory hug that goes with it. Both went on to play college baseball. Both had a great sense of humor, loved life, and lived it to its fullest. Both had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and knew him as their Savior. To the families of Frank and Matt, Memorial Day has a much more significant meaning. Since the holiday began with the placing of flowers on the graves of soldiers, I thought it might be appropriate to share with you where Frank and Matt were laid to rest. When soldiers are deployed to a war zone they fill out a card of their last wishes. One of the preferences listed is where they would be buried in the event of being killed in action. Frank chose the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery. Matt chose the serenity of the Memorial Garden, right here on the property of the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks.
On Memorial Day, the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks will be observing this holiday with a special service in our Fellowship Center. The service is scheduled to go from 10:00 – 11:00 am. We invite everyone to come out and be a part of this special time of remembrance.
To Frankies Patriot BBQ and the Gross family, the IRCS family says thank you for the great meal. The BBQ was some of the best I have ever had and it was delicious!