Monday, August 20, 2012
KINGSTON, N.Y. — Anyone who knows Tracy Litts Karson knows how she spent the early hours of Sunday — at St. Remy Cemetery, putting flowers on the grave of her son, Pfc. Douglas Cordo.
Cordo, a 2009 Kingston High School graduate, died exactly one year ago Sunday, killed by a roadside bomb on return from a resupply mission to Marines stationed outside Kabul, Afghanistan.
“I got up. I showered. I went to the cemetery to put flowers on my son’s grave,” Karson said outside the Steel House in the Rondout where a fundraiser was under way Sunday to benefit the Pfc. Douglas L. Cordo Memorial Fund, which Karson set up in her son’s memory.
“I really appreciate how people are going out of their way to come here today to help the fund,” Karson said. She said she intends to use the funds to set up a memorial for men and women who have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“I’ll be making an appointment with Mayor Shayne Gallo after Labor Day,” Karson said. “I took a bit of a break, to get past this time, to relax a bit,” she said.
Sunday’s event at the Steel House followed Saturday’s renaming of American Legion Post 1748 in Cordo’s memory.
“A sad day, but a day of good that overcomes the sadness,” said Debbie Elmendorf, Cordo’s aunt, at the Steel House. “Doug’s family is here and we’re all together.”
Elmendorf said her children have found their cousin’s death particularly hard to handle. But, she said, her daughter, Becky, now 16, had a thrilling role to play in the day’s festivities.
“She’s riding the 85-mile loop with the motorcycle group, ‘Run for Life,’ today,” Elmendorf said. “They started at about 6 a.m. and they should be arriving any time now.”
She said her nephew, Dennis Elmendorf, is a captain with the group and Becky was riding with him. “It will give her a bit of a lift today,” she said.
This is Kingston resident Frank Kravecky’s 5th annual benefit fundraiser at the Steel House. He said he chose the Cordo Memorial Fund because several of Cordo’s high school classmates work with him at Home Depot.
“I almost didn’t do one this year,” Kravecky admitted. “I’m remodeling my house and getting married in October, but Doug was a local kid and I’d want someone to hold a fundraiser for my son.”
In addition to the $20 fee for the buffet, and the sale of T-shirts, a huge draw on Sunday was the raffle of a custom-designed guitar by Kris Ostberg, co-owner with Dustin Bryant, of Planet Woodstock in Kingston.
Ostberg said the guitar he redesigned was not new, a little banged up, which he took in trade.
Donations may be made to the Pfc. Douglas L. Cordo Memorial Fund, care of the VFW, which manages the fund, 708 E. Chester St. Ext., Kingston.