Honor and Remember Dispatch – Vol 1 Issue 4

Founder’s Message

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.

God Bless,
George

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

RECENT COMENTS

“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”
Brooklyn, NY

“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!”
Climax, MI

“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 Dispatch – Vol 1 Issue 3


  
Founder’s Message

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.

http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc110/h7111_ih.xml

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.
Now is the time to begin contacting your district representatives to make them aware of Bill 7111 and ask them to support it.  https://forms.house.gov/wyr/welcome.shtml

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.
God bless you,
George
Sign the petition ~ Share the vision ~ Fly the flag

  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.shtml
HR 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.

www.sevmc.org/e107/news.php

There is an Honor and Remember motorcycle/car ride to the Hampton Veterans Hospital planned for November 8th at 9 a.m. that will leave from American Legion Post 280, Chesapeake.
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 BoardCPT 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

Honor and Remember Dispatch – Vol 1 Issue 2


  
Founder’s Message

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,
George
Sign the petition ~ Share the vision ~ Fly the flag


  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.
www.sevmc.org/e107/news.php

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 BoardTom 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