NASCAR plans to make a special tribute to a U.S. Marine during the Coca-Cola 600 race in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In honor of Memorial Day weekend, NASCAR hosts the annual race and pays tribute to America’s fallen soldiers.
For this year’s race, one of the honorees will be the late Marine Corps 1st Lt. Frederick Pokorney, who graduated from Oregon State University. Pokorney gave his life during his tour in Iraq in 2003.
He left behind a daughter, Taylor Pokorney, who was just 2-year-old when her father passed.
Before this weekend’s race, his daughter, now an adult, expressed her gratitude for the NASCAR honor.
“I was shocked,” she said after hearing about the NASCAR tribute. “People haven’t really reached out in a long time and talked to me about my dad. I was really excited to have him honored again.”
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Although her father died 18 years ago, she says he remains a daily inspiration in her life. “His death kind of had an impact on me and inspired me to do the things that I do today,” she said. As she got older, Taylor attended Oregon State, just like her father.
“I’m excited not only that his name gets to be put up on this stage as well,” daughter Taylor said. “That means the most to me because I want people to honor our veterans more. So that’s super exciting for me.”
Throughout the years, Taylor has gone out of her to remember her father and other fallen heroes. For instance, she organized a 5K and 10K for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which helps the families of fallen soldiers fund their loved ones’ funerals and other expenses.
Taylor and her mother, Chelle, also inspired the fund’s logo when they visited her father’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. The logo depicts a mother and daughter walking around the grave markers at the cemetery.
The 2021 NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 includes qualifying racing beginning at 11 a.m. ET Saturday. The race will be broadcast on FS1, with the featured race starting at 6 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX.
The pre-race show will feature several moments honoring America’s fallen heroes. These include a remote “State of Freedom” address from Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, an invocation by Brian Koyn, division chaplain at 82nd Airborne. Moreso, Megan Weikleenget, from the U.S. Coast Guard, will also sing the national anthem.