GASTONIA, N.C. — For many people, Memorial Day weekend is about cookouts and a day off work, but in truth, it's a remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
It's also a time when people recognize the other sacrifices of military veterans. An Army veteran from Gastonia recently received an amazing surprise that really let his family know how much they're appreciated.
Kemp Harvey served in the Army in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He's overjoyed that complete strangers took time out of their day to help him and show their appreciation for his service by renovating his home.
"It's amazing. Overwhelming," Kemp Harvey said. "We were so humble, we are just so thankful. It's a grateful experience."
Standing by his side, Kemp Harvey's wife Stephanie Harvey says there's no way the couple could not afford to make these upgrades on their own.
"It is extremely overwhelming, however, we are so grateful," she said. "And to see him happy makes me happy."
In a time when veterans aren't always appreciated, seeing so many strangers come together to improve their lives means the world to this military family.
"I can't even begin to put it into words," Kemp Harvey said. "I joined to serve. We don't always ask for help, we don't like help, and to see these people come out was a little bit hard at first, but it was amazing."
The sod is freshly laid and the driveway patches are just now dry. For the volunteers who helped out, it's a simple way to honor someone who served.
"We've been filling some holes, we've been doing some gate work," Jason Avery with Coca-Cola Consolidated said. "Planing some grass seeds and we put in a flag pole and raised a flag."
Coca-Cola Consolidated partnered with NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway to give the Harvey's home a facelift in celebration of the service and sacrifice of U.S. military members and their families.
"Racing the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend is all about the military and saluting the men and women of the armed forces," Jonathan Coleman said. "And this is an extension of that, being able to come out and put those words into action.
"We talk about how important racing on the eve of Memorial Day is but that's not just lip service. It's about us giving back," Coleman said. "We love our vets, we want to take care of our vets."
Along with the remodel, the Harvey family received tickets to Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. They will be able to start at the pace car and watch the race from the Coca-Cola suite at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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