HOUSTON David Hartley is a passionate advocate for the City of Hempstead where he serves as police chief. But his loudest and most passionate advocacy is for the memory of his son and the thousands of American troops who also made the ultimate sacrifice.

I do it to honor all, not just my son, said Hartley. My son was my hero, my inspiration. But he was about the other guys, taking care of his troops.

SSG Jeffery Lee Hartley, 25, died in Kharguliah, Iraq on April 8, 2008 when his vehicle was struck by explosives. In his memory, and as a tribute to other fallen soldiers, his family and friends in Hempstead, borrowing from the city s history as the watermelon capital of the U.S., formed the Watermelon Run for the Fallen.

The event this year is expected to draw thousands to Hempstead High School on August 18th for a 5K walk/run and a morning of events to honor soldiers and their families.

You can judge a nation by the way they honor their fallen. Folks this is America. This is Texas, said Hartley. We do things bigger and better in Texas. So we re going to do it bigger. We re going to do it better. And we re going to never forget (or ever) allow anyone else to forget.

The attendees are expected to include Gold Star families from across the country: families who have lost a loved one in battle.

If you call yourself an American and you sit here and say you re patriotic, I challenge you to be there and show your patriotism. Get up come out spend a little time, because our guys spend a lot of time for us. They can t walk, they can t run they can t roll anymore, we have to do it for them, he said.

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