My name is Nancy Gass and my husband, Girard David Gass Jr., who was known as Jerry, was a Green Beret; a Special Forces Medic and sniper who died August 3, 2014, during a combat operation while serving in Afghanistan. Tunnel to Towers gave me and my two children a mortgage-free home through its Gold Star Family Home Program.
But what has been given to us is so much more than a house. It is the most grand gesture of love I have ever witnessed. Thank you all for showing the kids and I that my husband’s service and sacrifice have not been forgotten. Thank you for providing my kids with a forever home. I’ve moved 17 times in the last 18 years and it’s been no easy task in the last four years since my husband died trying to figure out where to live as a single parent with a shattered heart. That struggle, of now figuring out the best place for my kids to grow up without their father, has been resolved. You have given us an unbelievable opportunity to put down roots in a wonderful city where anything is possible.
Thank you for this house because a mortgage free home has made it possible for my daughter to start kindergarten at a school she would not have otherwise been able to go to. My children are now attending an incredible Montessori school that goes through 12th grade and they love it there. My daughter is excelling beyond words and this education will likely change their future, and prepare them to hopefully one day, change the world. Also, thank you for providing my kids and I with another extended family, the Tunnel to Towers family, where we feel more love and support than could ever be expressed in words.
When I think of Tunnel to Towers, I always think of this race metaphor I heard in one of my Bible studies. It’s like life is a race and we are all running, but sometimes we fall down or we see others fall down. Many people come by when you’ve fallen down. Some pass you and keep running, not because they’re bad, but just because they don’t know what to do. Some people stop and ask you if you are okay before they continue on. Some stop and sit with you for awhile to let you know you’re not alone. Some tell you they’re there if you need them.
Then along comes Tunnel to Towers. They do something unprecedented. They run up to you and they put their hand on your shoulder and tell you it’s going to be okay. They gently take hold of your arm and help you up so you’re standing again. And they keep hold of your arm and walk with you, letting you know that you’re never alone. I remember for a long time after my husband died, this thought that I could not figure out how I was even standing upright. At his memorial, at his funeral, at wreaths across America, event after event, I could not figure out how I was even standing upright when inside I felt like a puddle of brokenness.
But it’s like the Footprints in the Sand poem, “it was then that I carried you.” This is what this foundation does. They help you up, walk with you, carry you, or whatever needs to be done until you feel strong enough to run again on your own. And even then, I imagine they’re still there, on the sidelines, cheering you on.
The truth is, all I want is my husband back. I want to see him hold our children again and laugh with them. I want him to help our kids learn to ride bikes. I want him to fix the wall in our new bathroom where my daughter pulled the towel bar down leaving a gaping hole. I want to hold his hand. I want to feel his unconditional love. I want to hear his voice. Unfortunately, none of that is possible. But in spite of that, Tunnel to Towers came to me and said, whatever we CAN do that is possible to help, we WILL do. We are here for you.
Once again, I want to thank you all for what you have done for my spirit, my heart, my life and most importantly, my children. The love in your hearts is the glue that is slowly putting my heart back together, piece by piece.