| Founder’s Message – Bill H.R. 1034
| A quick update on the month. February was a month of continued momentum. Of the most significant, on February 13th I was privileged to present personalized flags to two very special Gold Star moms; Mrs. Barbara Calfee in honor of her son, PFC Jack W. Calfee, who was killed in Vietnam in June 1st 1968. And, to Mrs. Emogene Cupp in honor of her son, Cpl. Robert W. Cupp, also killed in Vietnam one week apart, June 6th 1968. Flags were presented amongst their peers at a national Gold Star mother’s BOD meeting. I wish there were more than words to express the emotion of a moment like this. Forty years later we specifically call attention to the honor due these fallen heroes. We continue to march forward taking up the challenge of remembering each military warrior individually by name.This was also the month that Randy Forbes re-introduced the Honor and Remember Bill in the House of Representatives, HR 1034. During my visit to Capitol Hill I was told that the bill is now in the Judiciary committee and with bi-partisan support from Bobby Scott, Rep from Virginia . We are extremely hopeful that we will soon see the bill reach the house floor. Also kudos to Sen Richard Burr from North Carolina as he is considering introducing similar legislation on the Senate side. We ask that you continue to write your congress and senate representatives. You can do this easily by clicking on this web site and sending them an email, an example can be found in our “Share the Vision” section:
Lastly I want to introduce you to Kevin Baker, a disabled gulf war veteran who has started on an amazing journey across the country on a bicycle. Without giving anything away you may read his story below and follow his progress on our website. Our thoughts and prayers are with him as he tests the limits of his physical ability in re cognition of Veteran’s issues and in remembrance of our fallen.
Thank you to all who continue to share our vision wherever you go.
| Our Hero’s Story – Tracy Bissonnette
|My 19-year-old son, Pfc. Brian Moquin was killed along with nine fellow soldiers on May 5, 2006 in Afghanistan when their helicopter crashed during combat operations in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was my only child.I recently received an email from the Gold Star Mothers organization regarding your petition for the Honor and Remember Flag. First, I would like to express how very sorry I am for the loss of your son. It will be three years for me this May and I know exactly how you feel. There is no greater loss than that of a child.
As I was reading your words, it was like rereading the same words that I have written many times myself. I worry that my son’s legacy will fade away in the minds of others. For me, that would be like mourning two deaths. An unbearable thought. Without hesitation, I signed your petition and also printed out the PDF version to have at my son’s third annual memorial Ride and Benefit, coming up on May 16th. I hope to get many signatures for your cause!
Since my son’s death, my goal has been to honor his memory and the memory of others by holding many benefits to raise money in scholarship funds for students where Brian attended school and also to donate to various veterans programs. This year we chose the Massachusetts Veterans Inc.
NOTE: Honor and Remember is looking for stories about the young men and women who have died serving our country, so that we can share them in this newsletter and on a special page on our web site. The stories should be about 300 – 400 words in length and share some insights that capture the individual’s personality, a celebration of their life and experiences in service, etc. We want to present a snapshot of our young heroes … who they were and how those who loved them remember.
*** Please send to email@example.com
| Why I’m on Board – Kevin Baker
| My name is Kevin George Baker and I live in Norman, Oklahoma. I was in the Navy for almost four years. I served aboard the USS Hewitt DD-966 and was injured during the Persian Gulf War. I was assigned to firefighting in Kuwait, when a Scud missile hit our barracks. My injuries have left me neurological problems that have confined me to a wheelchair.On March 7, I began riding my hand-crank bicycle from Norman, Oklahoma to Washington D.C., then to Marseilles, Illinois and I will be flying the Honor and Remember Flag on my bike during the entire trip. I want people to see the flag and realize what it stands for. Perhaps our new president and the members of Congress will see me and realize that this is the flag that is being proposed as our national symbol to recognize the sacrifice of men and women who died in military service to America. Then I will meet up with Soldiers’ Angels, a support organization for United States military personnel, and will ride with a group of them to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
During my trip, I’m hoping to take a couple of days off so that I can visit my mother and grandparents in Danville, Virginia and go to the Danville Veterans Park, where there is a nice memorial and where I hope to have a long chat with my grandpa, who is a decorated WWII veteran. I also plan to pass through Virginia Beach so that I can visit with George Lutz, the founder of Honor and Remember.
My final destination is Marseilles, Illinois, where I’ll visit the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial, which is dedicated to military service members who died since 1979, including casualties from the Persian Gulf War and the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of a Gold Star family will transport me home to Oklahoma.
I’ve decided to call my effort the Ride of Pride Across America. I am proud to include the Honor and Remember Flag as part of my ride. I’m looking forward to answering the questions I will g et from people about the flag and explaining to young and old how it signifies the greatest sacrifice a person can make for their country. Kevin B.
NATIONAL FLAG TO HONOR AND REMEMBER
THOSE WHO DIED WHILE SERVING IN AMERICA’S MILITARY
WHEREAS, there has never been an officially recognized symbol that serves as a daily visible reminder for those who made the ultimate sacrifice; and
WHEREAS, an “Honor and Remember” flag has been created as a daily reminder for the American public to acknowledge the ultimate price of freedom; and
WHEREAS, the “Honor and Remember” flag will recognize, not only those killed in action during war, but all service members who died in the line of duty; and
WHEREAS, this flag will serve as a symbol of national gratitude, value each American life given for our freedom, and give comfort to the families who lost a loved one during military service; now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, that we support legislation to establish a national flag to honor and remember all who gave their lives in military service to this nation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Congress to adopt the flag created by the Honor and Remember organization to serve as the national flag.
I think this is a wonderful site. I just found out about this today and will research it more and be glad to support this cause. My father was a 3 time Vietnam Vet and I have a brother in law in Kuwait on his second tour right now. I appreciate seeing others support our men and woman that fight so courageously for our country and they deserve all the recognition they can get. Panama City, FL
I served under the U.S. flag for 28 years in the US Navy and feel this effort is very noble. All veterans should add their support. Quitman, GA
I am taking a portion of my message to recognize Gold Star mom Mrs. Mollie Snyder. She passed away this week, Feb 8th in Wernersville PA. Mollie was the oldest living member of the American Gold Star mothers, she was 99. She lost her precious son Pfc Walter H. Snyder Jr. on the 8th of December, 1950 in Korea. Since that tragic day, she has worked tirelessly over the
years to bring genuine comfort to generations of hurting Gold Star families, as well as playing a major role in veterans care around her community and beyond.
Honor and Remember had been preparing a special flag in her honor, and in tribute to Walter, that we hoped to soon place in her hands. Unfortunately God’s timing always supersedes our own. Although we are not able to personally present this gift we know that the joy of creating it for her will touch many many lives in the future. We thank you Mollie for all you have meant to so many and for the ultimate sacrifice you have endured for a price called freedom. ******
The speed at which we are growing is phenomenal. Every day I receive encouraging letters from Gold Star families, veterans and organizations who have caught the vision for Honor and Remember and are sincerely grateful for this campaign. Despite the breadth of this movement, we still have so very far to go. You may recall that in late October we were honored to be mentioned on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program with the help of Dennis Miller. This mention resonated strongly with Mr. O’Reilly’s audience and produced a tremendous response on our web site. As we move into 2009, we need to encourage even broader national exposure. There are dozens of local and national talk show programs whose hosts continue to speak positively about our military. Yet unless there is a recent death there is very little mention of our fallen heroes being recogniz ed.
Since October, I have had some favorable interaction with national personalities, including Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee and Oliver North. We even shipped Sean Hannity his own Honor and Remember Flag. Many other local and national media figures are at least aware of our campaign, but “no on air” attention. However, with your help we can ramp up our outreach and get the attention that Honor and Remember needs and deserves.
Many of you have already contacted your House and Senate representatives soliciting their support for Bill H R 7111. Thank you for your efforts and please keep in touch with them until legislation is passed to officially recognize the flag as a national symbol. Now I’d like to challenge everyone who receives this newsletter to make a similar effort with local and national media.
Please consider making a call to local and national radio and TV programs or writing a letter or sending email to media personalities or reporters that you admire. Respectfully ask them to give Honor and Remember some exposure on their shows and in their publications. These celebrities have the ears of millions of Americans who have yet to hear about this remembrance campaign. Even one mention on a national show or in a national publication could give a tremendous boost to our grassroots movement to have the Honor and Remember Flag officially recognized and to put a personalized flag in the hands of Gold Star parents.
Here is a link that will help you locate many major personalities, such as Sean Hannity, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Dennis Miller, Oprah, Gary Sinese, Alan Combs, Rush Limbaugh, Clark Howard, Mike Huckabee, Neil Boortz and many more: www.talkshowhosts.com/outsourcing.html
Thank you in advance for any effort you can make to spread the word. I truly believe that our national campaign will soon reach a “tipping point” w hen recognition of the Honor and Remember mission will explode. Your added efforts will play a critical role in the success of our goals.
Finally, as we near Valentine’s day this weekend, our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who find, through their loss, this a very difficult day to overcome.
Our Heroes Story
My son, Cpl. Cody A. Putman had returned from a successful mission and was asleep for just a few hours when a suicide bomber drove a truck into his unit’s Bagdad compound. When the bomb exploded, the building where Cody was sleeping collapsed and he was crushed. That was April 12, 2007. Cody’s death came just 12 days after he returned to Iraq from a visit home. We were blessed to have spent nearly three wonderful weeks with him. After his death, we received many letters from members of his unit and others who knew him telling us what a great soldier he was. They said that even though he was a radio man and driver, Cody often did things that were above and beyond the call of duty.
I absolutely love and admire what you have started, and I will share it with our local Gold Star Mother Chapter, which we are just starting here in Indiana. I’m going to recommend that sharing this information become one of our missions this spring. I also will forward this information to everyone I know.
One thing that became so clear to me as our community honored my son was a question: How did the families of those who were killed in the Vietnam era cope? They didn’t receive the honor my son and our family received. I can’t imagine what that families in that era went through at that time, but I do know they are still experiencing the pain, as we are. It never goes away.
Please let me know if I can be an Indiana connection for this wonderful project. I will share this information with as many people as I possibly can. Thank you for all that you are doing. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I’m going to order my flag this week and many of the other items for my family. Love, Pamela Mow
*** If you have a story about a fallen hero that you would like to share, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Why I’m on Board – Don Belew
I will never forget the day that the Honor and Remember Flag was presented to honor the life and death of Lt. Jeremy Wise at Oceana air base in Norfolk, Virginia. The colors of the American flag and Navy flags flew high. There was a large group of motorcycles and vehicles of the Patriot Guard Riders, an extremely dedicated veteran and civilian organization formed to honor and remember, as well as promote peace and solitude during the funerals of men and women who died for this great country.
This was a sacred day that shook my soul. I cannot get out of my mind the pain I saw in the eyes of Lt. Wise’s wife, knowing that she and her family were suffering with the realization that Lt. Wise would never come home to play with his son, eat the Thanksgiving Day meal or sing praises to God at their church. Many, many civilians attended the funeral, as well as fellow naval air officers, who paid quiet respect to their fallen comrade. A formal 21-gun salute echoed through the base as I watched over and over the empty bullet casings fall to the ground.
As the military and civilian mourners looked upon the casket of Lt. Wise, I noticed several that also looked upon the Honor and Remember Flag with reverent silence and respect. During several moments of conversation with both officers and Patriot riders, I sensed a newfound respect for the flag that was standing as a noticeable symbol of Lt. Wise’s ultimate sacrifice. Many of the Patriot Guard Riders expressed their feelings of honor to finally see and hold this flag.
There were a few people who were unsure about the meaning of the Honor and Remember Flag. They wondered how it was meant to be perceived. Was it supposed to replace “Old Glory?” But it didn’t take long for them to realize that it only compliments the US flag and perfectly symbolizes the ultimate sacrifice made by Lt. Wise to keep it flying!
It wasn’t until the missing man formation of F18 Hornets flew over that my knees began to buckle. All I could think of was how blessed I was to stand at attention with so many honorable U.S. veterans. I will always thank my dad for raising me to respect our country and its military. And I am grateful that I have been able to be a supporter who has signed the petition to get the Honor and Remember Flag nationally recognized.
Recent News and Comments
Thank you for continuing to help us remember all of our fallen heroes. I lost my son, Lcpl. Brian Hopper, in Iraq on Jan. 26, 2005 and we miss him terribly. I plan on flying this flag on all Patriot Guard Rider Missions. Thanks again. Wynne, AR
I think this is wonderful. I am so worried that people are going to forget my son. We have put up a flag of the USA in our front yard and friends had his favorite tree planted in our front yard. We had a marker made to go at the bottom of the tree. Thank you for all you do. Christiansburg, VA
What an incredible thing you are doing. This is a great idea, to have a way to every day remember the fallen heroes of our country. I am a veteran of Vietnam and think of the men lost there often. I will be signing the petition and calling my senators and representatives to endorse Bill H.R.7111. Gulfport, MS
For those of you just coming on board, let me thank you for believing enough in our mission to take the time to log on and sign the petition. You are now participating in a legacy of gratitude never before attempted in our country’s history. Our inaugural year 2008 resonated throughout the country with thousands of supporters. A few highlights come to mind, including the May 26th unveiling of the Honor and Remember Flag, the national endorsements, the introduction of Congressional Bill H.R. 7111, the television exposure from Dennis Miller and Bill O’Reilly and the dozens of interviews I gave for radio and TV. In this short column, I cannot fully recap last year’s accomplishments, so I’ll leave it up to you to explore our past newsletters and blogs for the details.
In addition to all of the historic events, the most memorable moments for me occur when tears of gratitude come to the eyes of those who receive an Honor and Remember Flag in recognition of the sacrifice made by that family, whose loved one will never come home. We are privileged to be the pioneers of a national symbol of remembrance that provides Americans a tangible way to say thank you.
Last year we were able to present flags to many family representatives, such as Mrs. Hickey and Mrs. Carter-Krell, both of whom lost their sons in Vietnam. I’ll never forget the ceremony conducted at Norfolk Naval Station in honor of the seventeen USS Cole families who lost loved ones that tragic day in 2000. And then there was that special presentation of Honor and Remember Flags by Matthew Drake, the sole survivor of a terrorist car bombing, to the three mothers who lost their sons that October day in 2006. More recently in December, one Gold Star Mother made a personal flag presentation to another mom in Washington state. While in Puerto Rico, one of our team members presented a flag to the mother of a recently fallen marine who thought she’d been forgotten. This is the essence of our mission: while working toward national adoption and public awareness, we are first and foremost tasked with presenting personalized flags to all of those parents that we can identify.Now let’s focus on the breadth of opportunities awaiting us in 2009. This year we hope to be exponential in our efforts. Hand-sewn flags are already in production for many more families, including mothers from the Korean and Vietnam wars, and we are preparing for a special U.S. Marine Corps group presentation this July 4th in Washington D.C. Major ceremonies are also being planned around Gold Star communities in several states, including California, Illinois, Texas and Virginia. This will be accomplished not through our own efforts alone, but also through local, state and national partnership opportunities.
This year, H.R. 7111 will be re-introduced in the 111th Congress and we will continue to add national organizations to our endorsement list. Talking to your senators and representatives will help move that legislation forward. It was ei ghteen years before the POW flag was officially recognized and it is our hope that the 111th Congress will act quickly to adopt the Honor and Remember Flag. National media opportunities have already begun to surface and soon we will be seen on the Glenn Beck Show on the Fox News Channel, Living the Life on the Christian Broadcasting Network and several other programs that are in the planning stage.
Let’s take every opportunity to keep the momentum going and to continue to make an impact in every sphere of influence. There are no boundaries to remembering our heroes 365 days a year. Thank you all for your belief and support in this truly historic campaign.
Latest News in Brief
12/1/08 – National endorsement received from MOAA. Military Officers Association of America.
12/13/08 – Honor and Remember 2009 Strategy Meeting – committee planning for organizing and achieving next years goals.
12/21/08 – Marine Flags – 20 Personalized flags were ordered and went into production in honor of a select group of brave Marines. A special ceremony is scheduled for later in the year. More to come.
12/27/08 – Gold Star mother Doris Kent presented a personalized Honor and Remember Flag to Mrs. St. Pierre, in Washington state, in memory of her son. LCpl Kyle Brown, kia 7 Jan 2006. (see photo)
12/28/08 – Front page article with video about Honor and Remember campaign. READ ARTICLE HERE
Why I’m on Board
Aaron Charles Mandelbaum (Presented at his Bar Mitzvah)My grandfather, Leonard Sutton, operated a corner drugstore with a lunch counter in Norfolk, Virginia. He did a brisk business in bag lunches to go to the workers who worked in the Naval Shipyard, many of whom were high school students and young adults who sought to earn money to go to college or open a business of their own. One such high school kid was Johnnie Eller.
Johnnie was well liked by everyone because he was an honest, hard-working guy with a warm smile and good laugh. Upon graduation from high school, Johnnie enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported for duty in Vietnam. John Arthur Eller had served just a few days more than 6 months when on August 23, 1968 he was killed in Quang Nam, South Vietnam by hostile ground small arms fire. Of course, I never met Johnnie – but I wish I had. I have heard many stories about how well he treated my grandparents and how he was a friend to my mother and her sisters.
Last spring, I and my classmates at the Saligman Middle School took our class trip to Washington, DC. On our agenda was a trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I made it a point to find Johnnie’s name engraved on a wall of the Memorial. With the help and determination of Rabbi Shawn, a teacher at my school, we located Johnnie’s name. I touched his engraved name and my classmates felt that we should honor Johnnie right there. That afternoon we put on our kippot and recited the Kaddish for John Arthur Eller AND for all his comrades who had similarly fallen.
Surprisingly, in more than 200 years of our nation’s history there has never been a recognized symbol that reminds us daily of the sacrifices made by members of our military who lost their lives in service to our country. Until now. Through a visit to the Norfolk, Virginia Naval Amphibious Base – the largest of its kind in the world – I came across Honor and Remember, Inc., a nonprofit organization that has launched a national campaign to create an emblem with which every patriotic American can acknowledge the ultimate price for freedom.
As an extension of my Mitzvah Project, I have pledged some of my Bar Mitzvah money and made a commitment to spread the word about the need for a flag to honor those who have fallen in military service to our country. As a token of my pledge and commitment, I would like to present this flag for our synagogue to proudly display as a symbol of our congregation’s commitment to remember those who have honored our country and given the greatest of sacrifices to preserve its ideals and freedom.
Footnote: Aaron’s efforts and his intention to present a flag to TBI came to the attention of the Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Norfolk, VA. As a token of appreciation for Aaron’s support of troops who have fallen, Base Commander Michael T. DeWitt II made arrangements for Aaron to receive a surprise presentation of a U.S.flag that was the only flag flown on the central flag stand at the naval base on the morning of September 11, 2008 – when a memorial service was conducted before 3,500 officers and men. Rabbi Kalev made the presentation on behalf of the U.S. Navy to Aaron on the Bimah the morning of Aaron’s Bar Mitzvah. The flag now is displayed outside the TBI Sanctuary as a reminder to all.
From Aaron’s mother, Gail: Mr. Lutz, you have no idea about the impact of your organization on our family. Thank you for the opportunity to deliver the message of honor and deliver it from one generation to another.
I joined the U.S. Navy in 1940 and retired after 20 years. I lost many shipmates at Pearl Harbor, during WWII in the South Pacific Theater and in Korea. I bought your flag last year and will proudly fly it on my lighted flagpole. Homeland, CA
I think this is a great idea and I hope and pray the House and Senate will pass this bill. All should be proud for their efforts in making this possible. I have printed the petition and will distribute it for signatures in the Jacksonville, Florida area.
Thank you for all you are doing. My name is Dawn Spencer. My son William D. Spencer was killed on 12-28-06. Thank you. Today is the two-year mark. My oldest son leaves 01-15-09 for basic training. Thank you. Never Let ‘Em Forget. Middletown, OH
I read the article today in the newspaper and I had tears in my eyes. Very moving. I am going to fly the flag. Virginia Beach, VA
I think the flag honoring fallen heroes is wonderful. We lost our son in Mosul, Iraq on 1/15/2007. Our hearts go out to the many families who have also lost a loved one. Wisconsin Rapids, WI
I received this link from my friend that lost her husband on my last deployment. We were both in the same squad and were very close friends. I looked at this man as the brother I didn’t have. I believe that this flag may be the best design to honor our loved ones and friends. I hope to see this flag flying soon. Killeen, TX
IRAQ INJURED and THANK YOU – It gives me goose bumps and lets me offer peace to my fallen family in supporting this flag. I am broke n and medically struggling, but I am alive. With this flag, I believe OUR family too will live. HOOAH! Albany, NY
Thanks to all who have taken the time to leave such wonderful comments in our guestbook. There are hundreds more to read at www.honorandremember.org/guestbook.html
This last month has proven to be monumental in the scope of our vision. It is difficult to begin to prioritize the importance of so many milestones. Each element of Honor and Remember’s three-fold mission experienced significant progress.
First, I want to convey our heartfelt thanks to Dennis Miller, the Fox News Channel commentator, for sincerely believing in this vision and sharing it with his good friend Bill O’Reilly. On October 22, Mr. O’Reilly mentioned Honor and Remember in the Reality Check portion of his TV show, the O’Reilly Factor, at Mr. Miller’s request. Mr. O’Reilly encouraged his viewers to support Honor and Remember and put the website address on the screen. This unexpected national launch resulted in thousands of hits on www.honorandremember.org. Consequently, I want to welcome the many new supporters to the Honor and Remember Dispatch who responded to Bill O’Reilly’s statement of support by signing the petition, making a donation and purchasing flags. Thank you for supporting this historic campaign.
In keeping with our mission, we have been honoring many Gold Star families with flags all month. On October 12, personalized Honor and Remember Flags were prepared for each of the 17 families that lost sailors on October 12, 2000, when suicide bombers in Yemen attacked the USS Cole. The ceremony, held at Naval Station Norfolk, was solemn and beautiful. Retired Sailors from Branch 5 of the Fleet Reserve Association, Norfolk VA had raised the nearly 4,000 dollars to purchase the flags that made the presentation possible. Please visit our website to read comments on the event in our guest book and blog.
On October 15, three mothers in Washington State received personalized flags honoring their sons, who all died in the same suicide car bombing attack in Iraq, 2004. One soldier who survived the attack but was severely injured joined with his mother to purchase and present the flags to the mom’s of his fallen comrades. A moving personal account of that ceremony appears below in the Why I’m on Board segment. (see photo above)
Last week I presented a personalized flag to Mrs. Marge Hickey, who lost her 19-year-old son in Vietnam in 1966. Forty-two years after his death, she still bears the grief of her loss and for one significant moment she was individually honored for her son’s sacrifice. Despite the many years that have passed since the day she received the worst news a mother can hear, Mrs. Hickey was deeply moved and grateful to receive her flag.
Sometimes I am a little disheartened when I receive a comment from someone who doesn’t see the need for a national remembrance flag. Rare though they are, these remarks grieve me and I wonder why there is anyone who doesn’t “get it”. The concept of making sure that each individual life is remembered everyday, is not something that should take much thought to accept. Strong, healthy young men and women swore an oath to defend our freedoms and accept the risk of paying the ultimate price for their country. My dismay over any negative statements are quickly dispelled, however, when I think about moments like the one I had with Mrs. Hickey. Try explaining to her and the many Gold Star families we hear from everyday, that we don’t need a national emblem the gives continuous tribute to their sons and daughters!
Thank you to all who are in the trenches helping us to honor one life at a time. There are thousands more parents to reach and honor, even some mothers who lost children in the Korean War. Stay tuned as we press forward with this historic campaign.
Latest News in Brief
October was a busy month. Here are some highlights of how we advanced the cause of Honor and Remember:
10/25/08 – Mayor Rudy Giuliani adds his support.
10/24/08 – Personal contact with Mike Huckabee, Alan Colmes and Rick Santorum
10/22/08 – Dennis Miller and Bill O’Reilly give national endorsement!
10/18/08 – Meeting with National Vietnam Veterans of America.
10/15/08 – Three mothers with a special relationship presented flags in state of Washington.
10/12/08 – USS Cole family flag presentations
10/07/08 – Radio interview with Jim Blasingame, the Small Business Guru
10/06/08 – Personal contact with Secretary of the Army Pete Geren
More detail on these events can be found in our blog. www.honorandremember.org/guestbook.html
Why I’m on Board – Lisa Schuster
On October 15, 2004, my son, Matthew Drake, was the only survivor of a suicide car-bombing, which took the lives of his Psychological Operations teammates, a Marine videographer, and their Iraqi interpreter. The Americans killed that day were: SSgt. Michael G. Owen, Cpl. Jonathan J. Santos, and Marine Cpl. William I. Salazar.
Due to the severity of his injuries, Matthew was unable to attend any of the memorial services for his fallen brothers. Matthew received many injuries, including multiple fractures and burns, but his most serious and life-altering one was a severe traumatic brain injury. He has worked hard relearning how to do the most basic life skills, including walking and talking.
While Matthew was recovering, we hung pictures and articles about all three men and a memorial plaque of SSgt. Owen and Cpl. Santos in his room, but it wasn’t enough. As he began to heal and to think more like an adult again, Matthew began to be bothered by the fact that he had not been there to pay his respects to the buddies he lost that awful day. He especially worried about their mothers.
We could never think of an appropriate way to reach out to their families to show that we did care, that they have never been forgotten, that they are always in our thoughts and prayers. Then we heard about a Gold Star father, George Lutz, and the Honor and Remember Flag he created for his fallen hero son, Tony, and all those who had fallen before him and after him in service to our country. I talked to George and went to the website, and suddenly we knew we’d found what we’d been looking for.
Matthew wanted to present a personalized flag to the Gold Star Mothers of each of his “brothers.” We ordered the flags and when they came, they were so beautiful that we were moved to tears. But how would we get them to three mothers living far away from us? Then another wonderful thing happened. We were invited to Bellingham, Washington, Jonatha n Santos’ home town, for a screening of a film, “The Corporal’s Diary,” a documentary using entries from his diary, videos and pictures. The film also includes footage of Matthew before and after his injuries and pays tribute to Michael and William. We found out that all the “moms” were going to be there and we knew we’d been given the chance of a lifetime.
On October 15, 2008, four years to the day after the attack, Matthew presented Kay Hutchison, mother of SSgt. Michael G. Owen, Doris Kent, mother of Cpl. Jonathan J. Santos, and Gloria Salazar, mother of Cpl. William I. Salazar, with personalized Honor and Remember Flags in a very special ceremony. Matthew proudly and solemnly handed each mother her flag as I read aloud the dedication on the accompanying certificates.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as each of these wonderful Gold Star Mothers held up her flag. Their faces glowed with pride, even through their tears. And my son was finally able to stand, tall and proud, and show these special moms just how much they mean to him, and to our nation.
Matthew did his buddies proud that day. I just know that Tony, Michael, Jonathan, and William were up there filled with pride and gratitude to you and to Matthew. Believing that is a gift that will begin to heal a very broken part of my son’s heart, and mine as well. Thank you George, and God Bless you for giving us the Honor and Remember Flag. Lisa Schuster
“I received my flag yesterday. As a twenty year veteran, I thank you Mr. Lutz for your vision, come true, honoring all of our fallen heroes. I will fly your flag honorably!” Gillette, WY
“My family belong to a vfw post in bklyn and we are trying to teach our unit how to help our vets in different ways. this is a great site. keep up the great work if we can help please let me know”
“I think this is long over due, we need to support our troops more past and present.being retired with two children in the service we don’t ever need to forget. Thank you for this flag.” Courtland, MS
“I am a Gold Star Mother. What an honor to have a flag designed to recognize ALL military individuals. The design of the flag is perfect. We will fly it proudly next to our American and USMC flag. Thank You!”
“I am US Navy Seabee WW II This flag will respect the 1.6 million people who gave their lives to keep this country free from oppression and communism and will be a symbol of their valor.” Scottsdale, AZ
Find more comments on our guest book. www.honorandremember.org/guestbook.html
| Honor and Remember achieved three monumental accomplishments this last month that have propelled us further toward our goals. I am amazed and humbled by how quickly important events have fallen into place in recent weeks.At 10 a.m. on Friday, September 26th, I was honored to attend a meeting of the American Gold Star Mothers National Executive Board. Needless to say, the meeting was emotionally overwhelming for all who were present. After I shared the vision for the Honor and Remember Flag, its symbolism and our organization’s ultimate goals, the board gave us their unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement.In keeping with our charitable mission, I presented to the president of the board, Mrs Carter-Krell, a personalized flag in honor of her son, Pfc. Bruce Carter, who was killed in Vietnam in 1969. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions that day. In addition, executive board member Mrs. Morel also received a personalized flag in honor or her son, Cpt. Brent Morel, killed in Iraq in 2004.This is what our primary mission is all about, bringing individual honor and national recognition to each individual life that was sacrificed in service to our country. My heart breaks that these are the circumstances that bring me to meet such great people. But we will push through the heartache and emotion and give tribute to each one.
Simultaneous with that meeting, across town on Capital Hill, House of Representative’s members Thelma Drake and Randy Forbes were introducing H.R. 7111 – A bill establishing the Honor and Remember Flag as a new national symbol.
Truly this was an historic occasion, as four months to the day from our unveiling of the the H&R Flag on May 26th we now have legislation in the congressional record awaiting a vote.
The third important milestone we achieved was the receipt of official IRS approval of our 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. This is extremely important to us as an organization and will enable us to openly seek sponsorships and donations. Receiving approval from the IRS was a timely miracle since this process generally takes six to nine months.
Everyday we gain additional veterans support from around the country, with national endorsements from the Fleet Reserve Association and the American Gold Star Mothers, more such groups are in line to join them. We continue to gain momentum as more local branches come on board. The VFW, American Legion, Military Officers Association, the Vietnam Veterans and the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) are all joining us in this mission. Please continue to get the word out to any organizations you may be affiliated with whether these or similar groups, encouraging all to join the campaign.
Honor and Remember is truly a grassroots movement that will enable America to have a tangible symbol which recognize its fallen heroes 365 days a year. Thank you.
| Latest News in Brief
| George will be featured on the national radio show “The Small Business Advocate” hosted by Jim Blasingame on October 7th at 7 a.m. You can listen by visiting the web site:
www.smallbusinessadvocate.com/content/features/listen.shtmlHR will be attending the AUSA convention in Washington, D.C. on October 6th through 8th ,seeking support.George will be the Grand Marshall of the Veteran’s Alliance golf tournament on October 9th in Norfolk.
www.unitedveteransalliance.com/events.htmOn October 12th, 10am, HR will honor the family members of the sailors killed in the suicide attack on the USS Cole in 2000. Seventeen personalized Honor and Remember Flags have been created, one for each of the seaman lost on that terrible day. This will actually be the first year that the USS Cole will be in port at the Norfolk Naval Base on the anniversary of the attack.
The Southeastern Virginia Mustang club is organizing a car show/fundraiser for Honor and Remember on October 18th.
| Why I’m on Board – CPT Christopher Floro
|As a chaplain I have the privilege of walking and standing on the sacred ground of the lives of many soldiers and their families. This ground includes the myriad life and death experiences that uniquely allow a deep look into the often indescribable pain of the human soul. It is the calling that God has put on my life and it is a high calling – one not to be taken lightly or given up easily.The place that I now stand and walk on with the Lutz family began in the summer of 2005, when I first met Cpl. “Tony” Lutz, his wife Tiffany and their beautiful children, Anthony and Ava, at their pre-deployment training. Young, happy, scared, devoted were all words I might use to describe them and all the families there that day. For Tony and me, our sacred ground included New Orleans, Louisiana, in support of Hurricane Katrina, training in the “cool” desert of 29 Palms, California, and then several combat missions into Fallujah and the surrounding area in mid to late December of 2005.Tony’s Tactical Psychological Operations Team (TPT) was the last team I visited in Iraq prior to coming back to the United States. I returned on Christmas Eve and was notified on 29 Dec that Tony had been killed by a sniper in Fallujah. A few days later I found myself standing and walking on sacred ground with the Lutz family as we stayed up late into the night talking and grieving. My time with them included Tony’s memorial ceremony, funeral and many visits and phone calls.It is now the fall of 2008, nearly three years since Tony paid the ultimate price for his country, and his family continues to walk and stand on sacred ground that is shared with over 1.6 million other families in our country’s history. George (Tony’s dad) and I talk and pray often over what the loss of his son means, not just personally, but to our nation. What one sees in the Honor and Remember organization and flag is in a very substantial way that embodies what all parents of fallen service members desire – “that my son or daughter’s loss was not in vain and that they are honored and remembered for their sacrifice.”
As a country we must be unrelenting in carrying the sacrifices of our past into the present and future. When we do not persevere in this, we begin to count lightly the cost of our nation’s greatest resource – its sons and daughters and the freedoms the living now enjoy. Most warriors and their organizations have an ethos or creed from which they draw guidance and inspiration and the United States Army is no different. One of the statements in the Army’s Soldier’s Creed states, “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” For a soldier the clear application of those words is understood to mean that on the battlefield we will not leave a fallen soldier behind.
I believe that the Honor and Remember flag seeks, and rightly so, to apply that ethos on a visible, national level for all who have died in service for our great nation. Not leaving behind a fallen comrade then expands and includes honoring and remembering all of our service members’ sacrifices since our nation’s beginning. The parents, spouses, children and friends of our fallen continue to remember, honor and walk daily with the reality of the “sacred ground” of their fallen. I choose to walk and stand with them on that sacred ground – that’s why I’m on board. Can our nation do any less? Chris
There has been breaking news this week as I have received a call from our local Congresswoman’s office. I was informed that preliminary legislation has now been written to officially recognize the Honor and Remember Flag. Completed legislation could reach the floor of the House of Representatives in as soon as two weeks. I will keep you all informed as to when you can begin to contact your own representatives to ask for their support.In this issue I want to speak to the over 24 million military veterans who have bravely served America. This may be the largest number of living veterans in our nation’s history and it includes nearly 8 million Vietnam veterans, who served in an unpopular war and who were seriously unappreciated for their service. I strongly believe that this company of men and women who have laid their lives on the line for America can be a strong voice for reminding all of us to honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.I’m asking all veterans who are members of any military organizations to go to your chapter meetings and share the vision for the Honor and Remember Flag. Encourage fellow veterans to visit the H&R web site and sign the petition, and ask your chapter to support the H&R mission. Little by little, we can build recognition for the flag from the chapter level up through district, state and even national levels.Likewise, you can broaden the exposure of Honor and Remember by forwarding this newsletter to fellow veterans and to anyone on your email list who might be interested in our cause. This is truly a grassroots movement that I believe will change how America recognizes its fallen heroes.
We continue to gain support from many individuals, businesses and organizations from around the country. By mid-October we should have official national endorsement from the Fleet Reserve Association and unquestioned support from local chapters of the American Legion, VFW, Vietnam Vets, AFSPA, MOAA and AUSA, to highligh t a few.
This week marked the first steps toward achieving one of our basic goals: to place personalized flags in the hands of all living Gold Star parents. On Thursday, September 4th, the mothers of Pfc. Joshua Sticklen and Capt. James Edge were respectfully presented Honor and Remember Flags. I cannot begin to express the emotional energy of these meetings, as Mrs. Sticklen and Mrs. Edge were honored for their monumental sacrifice.
The gratitude I have already experienced from parents who have lost children and who have expressed their thanks for the Honor and Remember movement far outweighs the emotional pain of regularly revisiting my own grief for my son, Tony. I know what the flag meant to those two mothers I met for the first time this week and to the many more yet to come.
God bless you,
| Latest News in Brief
| George will be guest speaker at a banquet sponsored by the Richmond Area Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America on September 17th.George will be visiting the American Gold Star Mothers national board in late September.He will be the Grand Marshall of a military golf tournament on October 9th. www.unitedveteransalliance.com/events.htmSouth Eastern Virginia Mustang club is organizing a fundraiser for Honor and Remember October 18th.
There are plans for a fundraising motorcycle run sometime around Veteran’s Day. More to come.The H&R Flag is beginning to fly all over the Tidewater area. Our newest location is Chartway Federal Credit Union.There is a proposal to have all of the Home Depots in the region begin flying the flag.George and other supporters have been making themselves available for speaking engagements in the Virginia-Washington, D.C. area. If you would like to arrange for George to speak, please write to Contact@honorandremember.org
| Why I’m on Board – Tom Leisher
|I first met George Lutz over Memorial Day weekend when he came to a wreath-laying ceremony my local branch (Branch 5) of the Fleet Reserve Association holds each year at the Lone Sailor Statue in Norfolk, Virginia. It only took a moment with him and a look at the flag to convince me that somehow I had to help.I believe that every one of us who served in the military has lost a shipmate while we were on active duty, either in a combat situation or by accident. Many of our shipmates have died and we should be proud to have known them. I am a FORRESTAL fire survivor, as well as a Vietnam veteran and I know very well what it is to lose someone who is the closest thing to being a family member without actually being related.We retired members of the military have given our entire young adult lives to the service of our country. During those years, and even after, we have had many accomplishments of which we are very proud. As past national president of the fleet reserve association, in my humble opinion, supporting the Honor and Remember Flag may be the single most significant thing we have done for our country, our fellow Americans, and most especially, for our fallen shipmates and soldiers.Just holding the flag is a humbling experience when I think of that young patriot who envisioned a new country and then froze to death at Valley Forge; those soldiers who lay dying on a sun baked field in July at Gettysburg; that soldier who was beaten and left to die by the road during the Bataan Death March; those 134 shipmates of mine who lost their lives in the Tonkin Gulf; that young son, father and soldier killed by a sniper’s bullet in Fallujah.In a few years, when this has become well known throughout the land, as it surely will, we can say we were a part of helping it get started. We stand at the threshold of something truly wonderful honoring our fallen heroes and giving comfort to their families. We must all step over that threshold together. Tom|