VALPARAISO — At first glance, the classic vehicles displayed May 27 at Currie Motors Ford of Valpo may have looked like just another classic car show. However, to many of those participating or just browsing on Memorial Day weekend, the show meant a lot more.
“For me, this is a good thing. It gets a lot of people interested in those who paid the ultimate price,” said Dan Siple, 87, a Bronze Star Korean War veteran from Hebron.
Assisting on Memorial Day is “my duty,” Siple continued. “I gotta be here, helping, working.”
The Currie car show was a benefit for Folds of Honor, a national non-profit organization that raises scholarship funds for the children of military personnel wounded or killed in action. Since its founding in 2006, the organization has awarded $12.5 million in scholarships.
Leo Sfikas, general manager at Currie, did not serve in the military, but his father and an uncle did.
“We do one event a year, and it’s on Memorial Day,” Sfikas said. “We’ve partnered with (Folds of Honor) to honor the fallen and do something for their children.”
Many of those showing their vehicles wore patches designating them as veterans, including LaPorte resident Bob Smith, displaying his 1955 Ford Thunderbird. Smith said Memorial Day is “not my day, as much as for the parents of those who lost their lives for our freedom. We remember those whose lives were given up so we could be here.”
Bill Missal, who served in the Army in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968, brought his 1965 Yenko Copo, a vehicle built in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. For Missal, military service creates a brotherhood.
“No matter what branch you might have served in, we’re all brothers,” said Missal, a Cedar Lake resident.
Bob Carnegie, the Northwest Indiana chairman for Folds of Honor, served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. He survived combat, but two buddies did not.
“I think, what would they be doing today?” Carnegie, a Valparaiso resident, said. “For most of us, Memorial Day is one day. For families of those killed in action, Memorial Day is every morning they wake up. They see the hole at the desk or at the dinner table.”
Although veterans comprise only 1 percent of the U.S. population, Carnegie noted, “The country can’t forget what these people did to keep America safe.”