Good Afternoon,

When a member of the United States Armed Forces dies in the line of duty, several things happen in a short period of time.

The body is transported to a military facility and prepared for return to the U.S., accompanied by a military escort. A member of a special military unit personally notifies the parents and spouse of the deceased.  A military funeral is conducted, at which the family receives the thanks of a grateful nation and the folded American flag that covered the casket.

The family members return to their homes and begin the ordeal of coping with the loss for the rest of their lives. Within months, families begin to realize that those who surrounded them in their grief have returned to their own priorities. This scenario has played out thousands of times among American families since our nation began.

I believe that the most important aspect of this reality is that the lives of those fallen heroes and their sacrifice for our nation must never be forgotten. I know because my son was killed by a bullet in Iraq.

On Memorial Day of 2008 the Honor and Remember Flag was established. It is a visible and public symbol of a grateful nation … a testimony to all who see it that America’s sons, daughters, spouses, brothers and sisters who gave all will be perpetually honored and remembered.

The Honor and Remember Flag is officially recognized by legislation in 19 states. I am asking you to help us make it an even more visible public statement of recognition and gratitude throughout your area and the ENTIRE country.

It could not be easier for you to help. You can join this important initiative simply by flying, displaying or distributing the Honor and Remember Flag.  Please seriously consider participating in this important cause. At your convenience, please visit our web store, HonorandRemember.info, and consider displaying the Honor and Remember Flag.  You may read our story and explore our mission at HonorandRemember.org. Thank you!

Respectfully,

George Lutz ~ Proud Father of CPL George A. Lutz II ~ 29 Dec 2005 ~ Iraq

PS: Join us also in participating in our nationwide initiative Honor and Remember Month of May.

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We remember these heroes who gave their lives for freedoms cause and the families they left behind.

Staff Sgt. Girard D. Gass Jr., of Lumber Bridge, NC, died Aug. 3, in Jalalabad Air Field Hospital, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident while on patrol that occurred in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, NC.

Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, 55, of Schenectady, NY, died Aug. 5, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by small arms fire. The incident is under investigation.  He was assigned to the Combined Security Transition Command, Afghanistan.

Sgt. 1st Class Samuel C. Hairston, 35, of Houston, TX, died Aug. 12, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire.
He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, NC.

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Leggett, 39, of Ruskin, FL, died Aug. 20, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of injuries received when he was engaged by the enemy.  He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, NC.

Sgt. Christopher W. Mulalley, 26, of Eureka, CA, died Aug. 22, in Gardez, Afghanistan, as the result of a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, TX.

Have you flashed your flag? That’s what we’re asking individuals and groups across our nation to do as we launch a new initiative in keeping with our goal to raise awareness, publicly recognizing our military fallen heroes and their families.

This is your chance to join with thousands of other Americans and do something unique, creating a positive statement of support by displaying the flag in an “Honor and Remember Video Flag Flash.”

Here’s how it works:

If you are one of the nearly two thousand families who have received a personalized flag, a supporter who has one proudly flying or someone who is about ready to get one, please consider doing a “flag flash.”

Using your smart phone or a camera with video capability, record a brief (approximately five seconds) video of you or a group holding an Honor and Remember Flag (of any size) and including the words, “I (or we) honor and remember.”

If you have a personalized Honor and Remember Flag, you and your family members can hold up that flag and say something like,”We are the family  of (name of fallen loved one)  and we honor and remember.” Please briefly say whatever you feel is appropriate and respectful, and use whatever background fits your context, such as your home, school, veteran’s organization, workplace, a memorial and so forth.

Here are some additional sample phrases that we might hear in an Honor and Remember Video Flag Flash:

“We are members of (American Legion Post 280 in Chesapeake, Virginia), and we honor and remember.”

“I’m mayor (name and city) and I honor and remember.” (or the governor, congressman, senator, etc.)

“I serve in the (U.S. Navy) and I honor and remember.”  (or Army, Marines, etc.)

“I honor and remember the sacrifice of my hero, (Capt. John Smith).” (or friend, father, cousin, etc.)

“I am an American patriot and I honor and remember.”

“Im a (Navy, Army, Marine, etc.) veteran and I honor and remember.”

“We are the (class of 2014 Mountain View School in Boulder, Colorado), and we honor and remember.”

“We are the (82nd Airborne from Ft Bragg), and we honor and remember.”

You get the idea. Use your imagination. Let’s create a Flag Flash!

We would like your Flag Flashes to be as professional as possible. Here are some useful techniques to create a good-looking image. Use your smart phone. That’s the easiest and quickest way to get this done.

Need a little help? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Hold the camera sideways (horizontal) to get the most into the image.
2. Shoot in a place that has little or no outside noise (no airports, intersections, or train stations).
3. Get a friend to help. It will be hard to hold a phone and a flag and get the proper distance etc.
4. Lighting is important! Unless you have a brightly lit indoor area, do this outside.  Be sure the lens is not facing directly into the sun.
5. Try a few different “takes” and use the best one.
6. Help others make Flag Flashes!

All done? Here are some thoughts on what to do with your finished Flag Flash:

1. Email a copy of the video to Honor and Remember at flash@honorandremember.org (if its not too large). Also post to our Facebook Honor and Remember – Official Page.
2. Post your video to all of your social networking outlets, such as YouTube, Facebook  and Twitter, using the hashtags #flagflash or #honorandremember.
3. Send your Flag Flash to others, including your local TV/radio news shows. We’d love to attract their attention for the upcoming Honor and Remember Month in May.

If you work at a TV/radio news operation, please consider doing a story on the Honor and Remember Video Flag Flash and invite your audience members to send one to you. Broadcast or share on your social sites.

We will also post and share Flag Flashes on our pages and may eventually string them together for longer tributes. We want Flag Flashes to go “viral” during the month of May, Honor and Remember Month, as a way to say “thank you” for all those individual lives that have been given for freedom’s cause and to express our gratitude to all of the families that gave those heroes to us.

Let’s grab America’s attention with a positive statement of appreciation and remembrance that publicly acknowledges the sacrifice of our military fallen heroes and their families. Join us and create your Honor and Remember Video Flag Flash!

In light of the many upcoming Veteran’s Day tributes, I share with you a brief reflection. Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a Gold Star mother about our sons and the different ways that we as a nation remember our heroes. It was a casual conversation, like many I’ve had with families across the country. But something she said struck a very deep cord. She said the lives of our children are a national treasure. I pondered that for a very long time. A national treasure. What did that mean exactly and how did it apply to our values as Americans?  What do you think of when you hear the words “national treasure”?

This notion began to resonate within me. A treasure is something to be sought after, something to be coveted. Its worth is immeasurable… Can that be said about lives past? Absolutely!  If you do an Internet search regarding those two words you will find many definitions, ranging from “living icons” to “founding documents.” Most anything or anyone can become a national treasure for a variety of reasons. However, think about all of the freedoms and privileges that we have in this country and then ask yourself who maintains and protects them. Freedom of speech, religion and assembly. The right to bear arms and to participate in free elections. The men and women of our armed forces are the people who put their lives on the line in order to guarantee that we don’t lose those cherished freedoms and rights. And what of the ones who don’t make it home to enjoy them?

From our nation’s inception brave men and women have willingly given their lives selflessly for freedom’s cause, preserving a way of life that we are lucky to have been born into. I think that it is entirely appropriate for all of us who benefit from that sacrifice to treasure those lives. These men and women are probably our country’s greatest treasure, for without them, freedom would not exist. Some may consider buildings, monuments or national parks to be great treasures. However, as Americans we would be unable to explore and enjoy those things without the foundation of freedom paid for with all of the lives lost to protect it. So, I must agree that the lives given for our freedom are truly a national treasure, a treasure we must outwardly acknowledge and indeed preserve, a treasure we must recognize is part of our nation’s existence, a treasure that includes the families that raised and loved these heroes, a treasure that should be placed on the highest pedestal of tribute.

This national treasure of lives given for freedom’s sake may seem like nothing more than a list of names. But each of those names belongs to a face. Some of us may personally know a hero. That person may be our own loved one or a friend or comrade. Many even have memories of a friend or relative from generations past, perhaps as far back as World War I. Those names may trigger a poignant memory. But what about those heroes from long ago who paid the same price for America? Are they any less a part of that treasure? No, this national treasure is an accumulation of thousands of individuals who were born to loving families, married the love of their life and all shared one distinct characteristic– they loved their country and would do anything to preserve it. Should we not collectively recognize and preserve their devotion?

If the lives of our fallen heroes have not already been officially designated as a national treasure it is our obligation to ensure that happens. More importantly we should each find our own way of regularly expressing honor and educating others of the value of these lives to us all.

In the more than 200 years of American history, there has never been a  symbol dedicated specifically to the recognition of all military lives lost and to the families they left behind, until now. The Honor and Remember Flag is that public symbol of appreciation, a visible and tangible display of thanks that gives all citizens a way to make a silent statement of perpetual remembrance. I believe that one significant act we can make towards preserving our national treasure is to fly the Honor and Remember Flag.  Through the establishment of this symbol, we are able to leave a visual legacy, create a point of discussion for educating everyone and make a national statement of thanks.

Each family in their own way diligently works to preserve their loved one’s memory. When the last person who remembers that loved one’s name passes away, he or she is truly forgotten.

I believe we must instill in our nation this idea of declaring the lives of our military fallen a national treasure.  Whether in spirit or through legislation, these heroes represent the highest values of the American spirit. If we proclaim their lives to be precious and continue to call attention to their sacrifice, their contribution to our liberty will never lose its value.

Our mission is much more than encouraging the display of a simple piece of cloth. Rather, the Honor and Remember Flag is a means by which to pay daily tribute to generations of American heroes throughout history, and an important expression of preserving the legacy of our national treasure.

“Let us not mourn that such men died, but rejoice that such men lived”
~George S. Patton~

Blessings,
George

First written and published October 2013.

billboardMay31 Days in May for Memorials and Memories.

Eight years ago, my son Corporal George A. “Tony” Lutz II was patrolling the streets of Fallujah, Iraq, as part of the Psychological Operations 9th Battalion out of Fort Bragg. Tony joined the Army because he felt it was important to get involved and make a difference by serving his country. He had a wife and two children and an extended family that loved and supported him. The sniper who took his life didn’t care about any of that.

In the months that followed Tony’s funeral, I visited other families who had lost loved ones in the Iraq war. I began to sense that I had joined the ranks of a unique fellowship. These families were only the latest additions to a group that originated with the American Revolution, when the first soldiers to shed their blood for our freedom gave their lives.

On May 5, 1868, Memorial Day was officially established by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30. In 1971, Congress designated the last Monday in May as Memorial Day. Over the years, Memorial Day has also become synonymous with the start of the summer vacation season and a three-day weekend devoted to shopping, family gatherings, trips to the beach and fireworks.

While memorial services with wreaths, speeches and bands are typical elements of the Memorial Day weekend, the day designated to honor our fallen seems to have been swallowed by commercial and recreational pursuits. For the families who have endured the loss of a loved one to preserve the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, Memorial Day can be a hollow observance that seems to be more about cooking hot dogs than commemorating heroes.

Over the years, I have seen entire campaigns dedicated to encouraging Americans to commemorate Memorial Day for just one minute, yet I have also seen entire months dedicated to one specific cause or another. I believe the reason we dedicate an entire month to some causes is the magnitude of the number of lives affected by that cause. That’s why we should do more than set one day a year aside to pay tribute to the men and women of our armed services who have given their lives for America and to recognize the life-changing loss experienced by their families. Memorial Day is an important holiday, but the Gold Star Families (families of the fallen), deserve more recognition than a day that has become for many just an extra day off from work for shopping and having a barbecue.

I am encouraging patriots and Honor and Remember supporters in every state with the help of families, friends and neighbors to take part in a special emphasis for the month of May that we are calling Honor and Remember May (Month). Our campaign theme for the month is “Honor Your Hometown Hero.” The campaign that will call on local media to identify fallen heroes by city and state and publish stories about their military service and their families, who must cope with the loss of their loved one. Another aspect of the month-long observance will invite local businesses, organizations and schools to participate by creating a display of photos and other information about the fallen heroes from their town or neighborhood.

I’d like to see every business, civic groups, media outlet and neighborhood do something special every day of the month to pay tribute to the men and women who gave all in defense of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. This is a real opportunity for everyone to make a positive statement about the cost of liberty. Ideas for “Honor and Remember May” include:

* Asking businesses to download pictures and a bio of local heroes and posting them in the windows or on the walls of their business;

* Gold Star Families or friends can send stories about their lost loved ones to local media;

* Schools can ask students to write stories and draw pictures about their local hometown heroes.

* Notices can be posted in company newsletters, radio and community bulletin boards,

* Television and radio stations can profile a different hero each day.

* Everyone with a flagpole can fly the Honor and Remember Flag.

* Churches, sports teams, organizations and special events can all honor a hero in many specific ways.

* Arrange to have your local government read into the municipal record the names of the fallen in your area.

* Encourage public service announcements on local cable stations.

* Print out a list of fallen heroes from internet and post their names on social networking pages you may have, encourage friends and families as well
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In Virginia, the home of the organization’s headquarters, Honor and Remember Month will include “Virginia Run for the Fallen,” an annual event that will feature a team of 25 active duty military personnel from bases throughout Virginia who will complete a 236-mile journey to honor every Virginia service member who died as a result of serving during the War on Terror. Each mile of the route, which stretches from Fort Story in Virginia Beach to Arlington National Cemetery, will include a brief stop at a “hero marker” to pay individual tribute to family members, friends and comrades of the fallen. Each hero marker tribute will include a biographical description of a hero along with Honor and Remember Flags.

Individuals who wish to organize Honor and Remember May (Month) events and observances in their state should put together a profile of those heroes in their communities who have died as a result of serving in the United States Armed Forces. They can then send that information to their local newspaper, radio and television outlets along with a brief explanation of Honor and Remember Month. Likewise, they can approach local businesses with their information and ask them to create a “Display of Heroes” in support of Honor and Remember Month. Local governments, civic organizations, sports teams and other organizations can also be asked to participate.

Local news media can be asked to put out a call for Gold Star Families to contact them with their stories. Gold Star Families from many generations are all around us,. Local service organizations, such as the VFW and the American Legion, may have information about local families of the fallen. Make sure they know about Honor and Remember Month of May.

This is an important effort to give recognition to families who have given so much to America. Let’s all make a special effort to make the first annual Honor and Remember May (Month) memorable and significant. Join us in creating a tradition that leads us to remember the reason Memorial Day was established and raises the level of awareness for every fallen hero and their families.