I would like to take a personal moment to recognize the outstanding contributions of our family's "honorary son," 1st Lt. James P. Downs, whom we all call Pat. Pat is currently stationed with the U.S. Army in southern Afghanistan.

He is a 2002 graduate of St. Vincent Pallotti High School and graduated from Salisbury University in 2007 with honors. After college, Pat spent time training professional athletes in speed, endurance and nutrition. He then answered our country's call and enlisted in the armed services.

Pat and his unit earned several commendations, often receiving top honors in various training activities. At Pallotti, Pat and our son, Daniel, became best friends. When Daniel died several years ago, Pat and some other young men immediately stepped in to help our family deal with our loss. That is how Pat became our honorary son, and our granddaughter's godfather. There is never a Mother's Day or Father's Day when we don't hear from him.

His mom and dad, Laurel residents Margie and Tom Downs, are so proud of him, and so is the Walser family.


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Events in the community this month include free concerts, a Sept. 11 memorial walk and registration for fall classes at Montpelier Arts Center. The South Laurel Recreation Council is sponsoring one of its top-notch summer concerts this Friday, Aug. 5. Entertainment will be provided by the group 2nd Conspiracy. They will play a selection of classic rock. The free concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on the Montpelier Mansion grounds. Bring a picnic and enjoy music under the stars. Further information on the concert and other activities sponsored by the council may be obtained at its website, http://www.southlaurelrecreactioncouncil.org or by calling 301-776-2805. Registration for classes at the arts center is Aug. 15 for Prince George's County residents. Call 301-377-7800.

On Sept. 11, the Freestate Happy Wanderers Volksmarching Club is sponsoring a 9-11 Memorial Walk event starting at the Montpelier Mansion grounds. The event features five-kilometer and 10-kilometer trails on natural surfaces and along residential sidewalks. Participants start the walk between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and finish by 4 p.m. Commemorative signs and lanyards with the Sept. 11 victims' names will be furnished to the walkers.

The Open Arms School at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 13611 Laurel -Bowie Road, is holding an open house from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 4 for those interested in finding out more about the program. Children and parents are invited to come meet the director, the staff and teachers who will be working with the children this 2011-2012 school year. Call Open Arms, at 240-568-9352, for more information.