It's not the most beautiful gym, but the family of Lance Corporal James Bray Stack is honored that the so-called "sunken gym" at Christian Liberty Academy is now named for the U.S. Marine who was killed in action last fall.
James Stack spent many hours in that gym at the Arlington Heights school during the six years he was a member of the junior division of the Arlington International Air Gun Club, which practices there.
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Stack was schooled at home in Arlington Heights with a Christian Liberty curriculum, and his father, Robert Stack, teaches at the academy. James Stack competed with the school's soccer and track teams, being named the most valuable player on the track team in 2008, the year he graduated and joined the Marines.
Many of James' family members attended the short ceremony Wednesday evening, including his daughter, Mikayla, who is about a year and half.
His wife, Katie, could not attend because she was on her way back from Springfield, where Gov. Pat Quinn had invited her to a prayer event, said her mother, Dawn Hedrick.
James' younger sister, Megan Stack, is also in the gun club where her brother won high honors, including a gold medal in a national Junior Olympics.
One of the benefits James received from the club was the opportunity to "compete in a nationally sanctioned event and win a first place, a gold medal," said his father. "I never imagined something like that possible." Rev. Calvin Lindstrom, pastor of the Church of Christian Liberty, said it was good that the 60 people gathered to remember James Stack.
"Scripture doesn't say anything about dedicating gyms, but it does say remember," he said. "For his courage, his service, it's fitting that we do this in honor of James."
The young man, who was 20 when he was killed, shows what can be accomplished in a brief life, said Lindstrom.
Robert Stack also spoke, thanking the volunteer coaches from the team, including Don Weber and Peter Dorn.
They made a difference in James Stack's life, said his father.
"(The gun club) enabled him to develop great skills and discipline, which served him well in the ultimate gun club, the United States Marine Corps."
He said his son had the rare fortitude and commitment to complete the tough training to reach his goal of being a Marine.
"I have said this before and I will say it again: One of the proudest moments in my life was when my son earned the title United States Marine."
James Stack and his comrades did not have the luxury of arguing about whether we should have intervened in Afghanistan, said Robert Stack, they knew they had a mission, and they carried it out with bravery and courage.
"I miss my boy, but how comforting it is to operate on the reality of what God's word, the Bible, says, and it is true: death has no hold on James."