Andrew Lancaster

In the northwest corner of Illinois lies a small town called Stockton. It is an area of rolling green farmland and timber and years ago it was home to my grandparents who lived in a small double wide on the edge of town. Grandpa Ehredt worked in the Kraft Cheese Factory toiling away with a gimpy hip 10 to 12 hours a day in a building which has long since closed down. It was also the home of Sergeant Andrew Lancaster who was killed August 11, 2007 in Iraq. Andrew Lancaster graduated from Freeport High School in 2002. He was a standout football and basketball player. I had been officiating those 2 sports back in the late 90s through 2001 and had officiated Freeport High School games. Fate is never determined for we cannot control it. Perhaps Andrew Lancaster lined up on my side of the field and made a great tackle. Perhaps I called a foul on him on the court or quite possibly I may have handed him the ball. Irregardless, fate would have it that I would bear his flag on  Montana Sate Road 200 and place it at milepost 23, his would be the 700th flag placed on my journey. His name and flag overlook a beautiful valley and the Clark Fork river. I suspect his eyes were looking down upon me from the hillside. I believe too that Andrew Lancaster was an honorable, compassionate and determined young man with great integrity. In a time when sacrifice seems so outdated he faced  hardships we cannot begin to conceive, as do so many others, and risked everything to protect this country. Words are not often eloquent enough to bear the gratitude afforded so many who have been taken from us. In time the green grass around his flag here in Montana will turn to brown and then the snows will come but in my eyes he will be there on the hillside linked arm in arm with those next to him whose flags are but a mile away. They will continue to protect us for all time and will not be forgotten.

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4 Responses to “Andrew Lancaster”

  1. Ellie Says:

    Mike,
    I know that Andrew is grateful to you for honoring him by placing his flag overlooking the beautiful valley along the Clark Fork river. On my trips to town, I now, look for the honoray flags along highway 200. Every time I see one, I feel overwhelming gratitude for what these brave soldiers have given up for their country. Thank you to these fallen soldiers and their families. They have made the ultimate sacrifice…their life.

  2. Jamie Says:

    I had been reading in the paper the last few weeks about a guy from Hope, Idaho who was going to run from coast to coast, stopping at every mile marker to say a prayer for the name of each fallen soldier in the Iraq/Afgan war, and plant an American flag. Friday I had to run into Sandpoint, and on the way in, I saw someone running, with very strong legs, and thought little of it. An hour or so later I was driving back to Hope, and saw him again running, but noticed a handfull of flags in his hand, and then realized who he was. There was no car or van with him, since he was doing it unsupported, and I found it poignant that he was coming into his hometown, yet no one was waiting to cheer him on. I called my 18 year old daughter and told her what was happening, and she came down to watch. As we waited just outside of town, I asked her if she would drive me out so I could run a while with him and visit. As we ran together he shared many things. Suddenly he would disconnect from the conversation and stop. It was like he was alone again, scrolling on his Ipod, finding the name of the fallen soldier. He would then take a rubber band, and attatch the flag with his name on the milemarker, pause for a minute to pray, then he was back in the conversation and running. It was an honor to spend some time with him. I have been reading his blog. He is almost poetic in his entries, and he brings you into his day like you are there with him. I will not forget my time with him, and am so gratefull for having my attention bought to the brave and selfless unsung heros, who have died so I can be free. Each time I pass a milemarker with a flag now in my travels, I cant help but say a prayer for whoever that flag represent. Thank you Mike for making me aware of something I have grown to take for granted. Memorial day weekend for me has always been breifly reflecting on my uncle, who died in WW2, and then getting on with my self absorbed life. Hopefully, I will never be the same. Long may you run, Mike. I am thinking of you often. and as you cross those long, lonely strethes of Montana backroads, I am with you. Peace. Jamie from Hope

  3. Paul Says:

    It was an honor to run with you today. I wish you the best as you continue on your journey.

  4. Kevin Taylor Says:

    Mike,

    It’s pretty powerful how you sometimes get these personal intersections with the project. Powerful stuff. 700 miles. Amazing.
    KT

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