Jacqueline Hill
Fort Bragg Garrison Public Affairs
Courtesy graphic
Staff Sgt. Scott Brunkhorst from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was represented during the 600 Miles of Remembrance at the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., May  24 during Memorial Day weekend by Alex Bowman driving the No. 88 car.

Coca-Cola 600 remembers fallen 82nd Soldiers amid pandemic

Memorial Day weekend is a time for Americans to honor the men and women who died while serving in the United States military. Many Americans spend the weekend together with friends and Family or visiting cemeteries and memorials. However, this year’s Memorial Day will stand in stark contrast to the celebrations and memorials from the past.
Due to COVID-19, celebrations and memorials have been canceled across the nation. The need for social distancing continues to keep friends and Families apart. With these difficulties in place, it can be daunting to remember why it is we celebrate and who we are celebrating.
Despite these odds, NASCAR, along with the state of North Carolina, made the decision to continue forward with  last Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 race with one major caveat: there were not any fans in the stands.
Although there were not any fans, Charlotte Motor Speedway made it its business to make the race as patriotic as possible. This year instead of their usual military static displays, live flyover and howitzer demonstrations, the race was virtually supported through servicemember shout outs and other military video footage. Another aspect of the race that was maintained is the 600 Miles of Remembrance.
The 600 Miles of Remembrance is a way for NASCAR drivers and their teams to honor a fallen servicemember. Each driver in the race carried the name of a fallen servicemember across the windshield of their car. Normally, the Gold Star Family Members would be invited to attend the race, see the race car and meet the driver that is honoring their late Family member.
Unfortunately, that could not be done this year. Instead, as part of the remembrance, at the midpoint of the race NASCAR instructed all drivers to drive down pit road in honor of all members of the U.S. Armed Forces who sacrificed their lives.
During the 600 Miles of Remembrance, Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne Division are honored that this year two of our fallen servicemembers were recognized for their sacrifices.
Staff Sgt. Scott Brunkhorst from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and 1st Sgt. Russell Bell from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th PIR, were represented by two NASCAR drivers.
Brunkhorst was memorialized by Alex Bowman driving the No. 88 car  and Bell was memorialized by Denny Hamlin driving the No. 11 car.
While this might not have been a typical Memorial Day Celebration, let us all still take the time to thank and honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice.
Let us thank those that gave their all to protect our freedoms and our country.
Celebrate the lives and loved ones that you have and focus on the positives that life has to offer. Yes, COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and changed the way we operate, but it cannot take away our spirit or our perseverance.