There is a very special American flag that hangs on the wall at Richard Childress Racing every day. It symbolizes more than our freedom. It is a constant reminder of the friendship between Richard Childress and the Harris family.
Petty Officer First Class U.S. Navy SEAL Joshua Thomas Harris was born and raised in Lexington, North Carolina, graduated from Lexington Senior High School in 1990, where he was an all-county and all-conference football player. After high school graduation, Harris attended Davidson College earning a degree in studio art. He later continued his education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the pursuit of a master’s degree in architecture. Harris and his family were well known in the Davidson County community.
Harris enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Aug. 2000. After graduation from Quartermaster “A” School, he reported to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. Harris completed the rigorous training and became a highly decorated member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Not only was the Harris family proud of all his accomplishments, the entire North Carolina community where he grew up was honored to call him one of their own.
In Aug. 2008, Harris died during combat operations while conducting a river crossing along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
The Naval Special Warfare Development Group released a statement shortly after Harris’ death: “He served his country valorously during multiple combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq. He was a brave warrior, SEAL role model, mature and reliable teammate and an absolute great American.”
Following the passing of their beloved son and brother, Evelyn and Kiki Harris found themselves at RCR to tour the race shop. On their way out of the building one afternoon, they bumped into the owner and CEO, Richard Childress. They exchanged pleasantries and discussed their connection to the local community. Since Harris’ death, the family started a golf tournament in his honor to raise funding for the Heart of a Warrior Foundation. After hearing of the family’s efforts, Richard immediately asked if he could donate an item for the tournament. A signed bottle of Childress Vineyard wine was presented to the family.
“They never asked for anything,” said Childress. “I wanted to give them something to help support their cause. The military is something that is close to my heart. We pride ourselves here at RCR to do whatever we can to support our troops. It was the least I could do.”
This year’s golf tournament came and went as it had for the last five years. Only this time, there was a special signed bottle of wine that was auctioned off that helped the Harris family meet their fundraising goals for the year.
A week after the golf tournament, the Harris family once again found themselves at RCR. This time, with a special token of appreciation for Richard.
“I was sitting in my office and my phone rang,” said Childress. “I was told the Harris family was here and were in the boardroom. I just thought they were here to say hello and tell me how the golf tournament went this year. When I walked in, there was a large covered item in the corner of the room sitting on an easel. At first, I thought it was for a presentation for a meeting some of my staff were having. To my surprise, it was actually for me.”
To say thank you for Richard’s friendship and generosity, the Harris family presented him with a 75’ x 39’ American flag made out of wine and whiskey barrels. Weighing more than 100 pounds, the flag was handmade and designed for Richard by close friends of the Harris family.
When the Harris family pulled back the cover to reveal the beautiful American flag, Richard said with a proud smile, “I’m going to hang this where everyone will be able to see it.”
“It’s an honor to have this flag hanging at RCR,” he said. “I’ll always remember the day I received it and the great family behind it. Every time anyone sees this flag, I want people to smile and remember Petty Officer Harris and his family.
In part of the NASCAR Salutes program, RCR’s No. 2 Chevrolet will run a special rear windshield header this weekend for the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway. The header will honor Harris’ U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 Development Group from the naval base in Dam Neck Annex in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
To learn more about the Heart of a Warrior Foundation, visit jthmemorialgolf.com.
For more information about the wine and whiskey barrel flag, visit theheritageflag.com.