November 12, 2010
Thanks to all of those supporters who helped pick up the 12,000 flags Friday morning. It went quickly and was completed in about two hours. What a respectful impact we all made yesterday. Perhaps this can become a yearly event. Let me know your thoughts.
Now for phase two!
“Mr. Lutz goes to Washington”
2011 will be the year for Honor and Remember federal adoption!
I count on your continued support. Stay tuned.
November 11, 2010
Five months ago, 157 days back, June 7th Alex and I left Chesapeake Virginia to embark on an historic journey. The first stop Dover Air Force Base, where our sons and daughters are first brought home. Today, sans Alex, I arrive at the completion of this journey in Arlington National Cemetery for the concluding ceremony. I will post the accomplishments and statistics at some time later, may even be included in a book, but for now here is my best account of the day.
Veteran’s Day an extremely busy day at Arlington. A day to reflect on the those who have honorably served. Those who made it home and the sacrifice of so many who didn’t. A final resting place and a fitting background for our final tribute. My son like so many is buried here and those visiting this special place today were in the thousands. I thought that with an afternoon ceremony we would have beat the early crowds but that was not the case. Bumper to bumper traffic all the way in. If it wasn’t for my friend Neil, on his motorcycle blocking traffic, we may not have made it in time.
An absolutely gorgeous day, 65 and full sun. Arriving at section 60 was incredibly humbling, several hundred people were there in support of my arrival. Friends and family I hadn’t seen in months and supporters I had visited with across the nation. At 2pm we began to unofficially place 12,000 flags on the graves. Two flags on each, our steadfast US Flag and the flag that recognizes our fallen, the Honor and Remember Flag. It was an amazing site to see hundreds of people placing flags and reverently spending time with each hero. Hard to believe this small band could place so many flags in such a sort time. When they were done the sea of red white and blue inspiring.
The ceremony started like many with a prayer, the pledge and national anthem. Then took a different turn as I invited visiting dignitaries and supporters to share what was on their heart. Why were they there? Not to support my journey specifically but what being there meant to them. It was a wonderful time of sharing, with inspirational words from all. I did share a bit about the journey but very little, and concluded as I have everywhere in this nation, with a personalized flag presentation to two special women. Susan booth who lost her husband Arlie Spenser in Cambodia in 1970 and Kate McLaughlin, who lost her son in march of 2008, Iraq. This truly is the heart of the mission, touching lives in a special and tangible way. I hope to hear many stories of his today and the days past have touched the people I have met. And I challenge those who believe in this mission, to continue to sponsor flags and reach out to the thousands of families yet to reach. Please enjoy the coverage we received on this final day of tribute.
Tomorrow: Post Arlington. Pick up all the placed flags.
Phase one is behind, So much more ahead… I count on your continued support. Stay tuned.
November 10, 2010
Drove 5 hours to Richmond, Virginia last night and along the way found out my legislative visit in the morning had been canceled. I was exhausted and decided to just stay in Richmond anyway before heading to Washington, DC. I also needed to advance my trip to the cemetery and meet with the superintendent before tomorrows ceremony. Having of course nothing but the RV, I respectfully drove the beast into Arlington. There were many funerals being conducted and as always a remarkable and humbling experience. After my meeting with the Director I left the RV there and hopped a cab to an afternoon studio interview on National CBN News. Today would turn out to be a most memorable day. After the interview, I cabbed it back to get the RV and then check into the hotel. I had been attempting to over the past several days work out parking near the hotel. Not much opened up with the local police so today I was driving around the block looking for possibilities. I spotted what I thought would be a good place and decided to make a U-turn. Well I leaped before I looked and in the shortness of the turn, swung the rear end into a very firmly planed light pole. Yes as you would guess I actually tore half the bumper, rear fiberglass and all off the back. I felt sick, all this driving with no major accidents and now one day before Arlington, this.
I decided to park and lick my wounds, figure out what to do next and check in. As I was headed to the counter I began looking for my wallet. Wasn’t in my pocket and could not locate it anywhere, now just as I was looking around the inside of the RV I received a call from Patty. She tells me someone in DC has my wallet. Unbelievable. Right as Im looking for it, someone found it. It just so happens I dropped it when I had payed the cab earlier in the day. Thank God, but now I have to go across town to get it.
I decided with that crisis solved I would work on the RV situation. I checked in (with a promise of paying), and asked if they knew any body shops nearby. I really believed I could figure out how to get this fixed, afterall, nothing has stopped me long enough on the journey to make me miss even one scheduled event. I knew God would certainly have to bless this situation also. So I made a call and the guy referred me to Wayne King. Just four miles down the road and I bring the beast to Wayne. Long story short, by 1230pm next day, Wayne had the RV back in amazing condition. I was floored. It did cost me $1000, but without him it would have never happened.
The Arizona mothers contingent happened to be arriving about the time of all the mishaps and I was picked up and escorted to the wallet and to the hotel for what turned out to be a very decent, despite the adversity, day.
Tomorrow: The final ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, 2pm
George Lutz spoke more about his Honor and Remember mission on the Nov. 11 edition of the CBN News Channel’s Morning News.
Click play to watch his interview.
November 9, 2010
Left the home of Maj Floro this morning and headed East 2.5 hours to a scheduled ceremony at Camp Lejeune headquarters, Jacksonville, NC. This was the start of a long driving day. We met outside base with Kathy Moore’s team and were escorted in by security. The event was held outdoors in front of the headquarters building on a beautiful morning. In attendance were many invited guests including active duty marines, veterans groups, patriot guard and Gold Star families. This was another memorable opportunity to share the message, spread awareness and for the North Carolina Chapter to present a personalized flag to the mother of GYSGT Darrell Boatman ~ 4 Nov 2005 ~ Iraq. An extremely moving and appreciated time as we continue to touch the lives of families everywhere.
My journey took me 90 minutes north to Greenville where I had an interview with local TV and newspaper. The town of nearby Ayden had recently adopted HR and will be dedicating the flag on Veteran’s day.
Another 4 hours to Richmond made for a long 8 hour day. I have left North Carolina, my 50th state and am now in final countdown to Arlington. I have three potential national news stories upcoming, CNN, FOX and CBN. I am praying one or all will come thru on Thursday.
Tomorrow: Planning for Arlington and late afternoon interview.
November 8, 2010
Honor and Remember of North Carolina, chapter director Kathy Moore and her team have been working diligently in the state to prepare for my visit. This is the 50th state on my journey and the final stop before heading to Arlington for Thursday’s ceremony. The day began with breakfast at the Fullers and then off to Ray Price Harley Davidson to meet up with Kathy and some of the team. There was a ceremony scheduled at the state capitol at 10am and were going over as a group. The event was held in the Old Senate chambers and was well attended by an audience of about 100. Several Gold Star families were present as well as many family, friends, veterans organizations and patriotic citizens. Also we were privileged to have US Congressman Walter Jones and State Senator Davis. Sen Davis was instrumental in the passing of Bill 76 which adopted the HR Flag as an official symbol of remembrance for NC. The ceremony was very moving as each spoke about the importance of remembering. Kathy did a terrific job of organizing the day and helping me give tribute to 2LT TJ Meeks, KIA in 1943 WWII.
TJ’s two sisters were there to receive his personalized flag in such an honorable place with veterans from the past including the second world war.
Headed over to Ft Bragg for a ceremony on base at 3pm. Kathy had arranged for a gathering at the Family life center and it was well attended by Gold Star families, military personnel, Patriot guard and and many supporters. Ft Bragg was the military base where my son Tony was stationed and the moment was very emotional for me, so much so that I lost my train of thought and hesitated in my message several times. All in all we managed to push through and honor two special families with flags. Linda Ford in honor of her father WWII veteran PFC Dugue and Lori and Eric Southerland in tribute to her son Michael Rodriguez.
Words can never describe the powerful emotion of these moments and I am grateful that we can continue honoring in such a worthwhile and meaningful way.
Tonight spending the evening with Tony’s former chaplain before tomorrows busy day.
Tomorrow: Ceremony at Camp Lejeune, veterans meeting in Greenville.
November 7, 2010
Today I was scheduled at Trinity Baptist Church in Asheville. We had been planning this for months and I was warmly welcomed by the pastor and the congregation of over 1000. Trinity is very active in giving tribute to the military and today was a special military appreciation day. I was able to speak and share the mission not only to those in attendance but to a broadcast group of internet listeners and 52 military bases around the world. What a truly humbling opportunity which concluded with the presentation of a personalized flag to Darlene and George Houghton, Gold Star parents who lost their son Capt George-Bryan in 2009 due to an f16 accident. After the church service we went outside and dedicated a flagpole in George’s honor. Several other Gold Star families were in attendance and recognized today. A great great morning of tribute, fully embraced by all involved. Thanks to Jan for preparing for the leg of my journey.
We had a very warm and intimate lunch with the Houghtons and the Banks then I was on my way again on a 4 hour drive to Raleigh. Staying with Blue Star family the Fullers for the night.
Tomorrow: Ceremony at NC state capitol 10am, Ft Bragg 3pm.
- Georgia is no longer on my mind. SC and tomorrows ceremony is. I've now officially travelled 26 thousand miles. Don't forget to vote. #
- George Lutz meeting with newly elected SC Governor Nikki Haley. She also signed the pledge to Honor and Remember. http://twitpic.com/33m32a #
- Wonderful unexpected sucess in SC. Now entering my 50th state, NC. NC already adopted HR this past summer. I will see you all in Arlington. #
- Resting today in Burnsville NC, at Mary Janes Cafe. Would you believe it? Its snowing outside! When I left VA 5 months ago it was 90. #
November 6, 2010
This morning I woke to solid ice in the birdbath, its cold up here. Five more days until Arlington. Hard to believe when I look over the breadth of the time and distance traveled. June 5th, five months ago I began this trek of remembrance, and it will soon come to an end. My mind cannot truly wrap around the accomplishment of it all. I had another unexpected blessing since yesterday’s post. Last night when the phone rang it was the Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford. He wanted to apologize for missing me in Columbia and thank me for the efforts and remembering Gold Star families. I was humbled that he had called me, and we had a very positive conversation. I think it would be legitimate of me to now say I have had direct contact with 19 heads of state. Another God moment.
I found out earlier this week that today is Military tribute day at the Clemson University football game. They will be honoring military families and will be flying the Honor and Remember Flag. I am continuously amazed at how the flag is being more visibly accepted. It is what we hope and work for but it still amazes me. Call and thank the athletic director and lets root for Clemson….. or NC state.
Headed back to Asheville for the evening and was privileged to share a meal with the Banks family and with Randy Ray. Randy lost his son Joe in Iraq and we have been speaking for over a year. His sister Jan Banks has been instrumental in presenting several personalized flags in the western NC area. Great evening of food and fellowship.
Tomorrow: Presentation at Trinity Baptist in Asheville, 1030am. Carolina Panthers, flying the flag.
November 5, 2010
Admin, Admin, Admin… finally posted and got caught up.
Tomorrow: More of the same AND Clemson University flying HR at Saturday’s game.
November 4, 2010
Day 150 began with an onslaught of rain, haven’t had many of those as a matter of fact many states are in drought conditions. But I welcome the weather and headed off for what would become a very busy and productive day. My first stop was to visit with US Congressman Joe Wilson. This truly inspiring man, warmly welcomed me and enthusiastically embraced the Honor and Remember vision. He will be working with other legislators I have met, including my Congressman, back home to be sure this is quickly introduced in 2011. I was extremely encouraged by my visit and he and his staff graciously took an extraordinary amount of time with me. One of the most exciting moments of that visit was trying to get out the tight parking lot when the RV was sandwiched on all sides. Took about 20,000 miles of learned skills, but I made it!
My next appointment was with Major General Spears, the South Carolina state Adjutant. What an honor it was to meet this man who is the only elected Military official in the country. Now serving the state of SC for 16 years and in uniform for 52. All State Adjutants are appointed by each governor, but SC. MG Spears gave my mission his complete support and we had a very terrific and rewarding meeting. One interesting note is that he had a meeting last night with newly elected governor Nikki Haley and she had handed him our brochure and spoke highly of the mission, also telling him that she had signed the pledge. This was an amazing confirmation of support from the state.
I’m off on anther 3 hour drive to Asheville, NC the 50th state on my journey. North Carolina this summer adopted Honor and Remember so I am headed into friendly territory. State Chapter Director Kathy Moore has been arranging my visit for quite some time, and I look forward to the upcoming visits and Flag presentations. Also my brother-in-law lives in the area so I will take some family time until Sunday.
Tomorrow: Catch up on admin, Sunday Trinity Baptist flag presentation, 10:45am
November 3, 2010
This morning with an overcast sky and a cool blowing wind, the Patriot Guard/Rolling Thunder riders stood a flag line for what effectively was an emotional and memorable ceremony. Two Gold Star families were honored today at the bottom steps of a spectacular South Carolina Capitol backdrop. I was able to share the message with a very receptive audience including family members, local news and supporters. Today we honored Mrs. Janet Williams whose husband was killed in the Beirut bombing in 1983 and Mrs. Jan Dunkin whose stepson was killed in Iraq in 2007. It was an amazing morning as we honored these American heroes. I cant thank the Riders enough for their support of these families, here and around the country. After the ceremony a letter was read from Senator Demint in support of our effort thanking us and the families for their sacrifice to our Nation. See posted pictures. i was able to spend some time talking to the families and learning more about their loved ones. As I’ve said my family continues to grow as I meet some of the most incredible folks on the planet.
Following the morning event I was taken to lunch by David and Jim McGehee, of Columbia Flag, at a small Bar-B-Q place outside the city. I was going to speak at a planning meeting for an upcoming annual Veteran’s ride. When we arrived, my time was cut out of the program due to time restraints because the newly elected SC governor was conducting a press conference right in the dining room. I have to tell you that this was a God moment. After the conference she headed in my direction and within minutes we were engaged in conversation. She then honored my mission by signing my pledge book. My team had tried for weeks to arrange a meeting for me with the sitting governor or the candidates, and now the day after the election I was able to meet with one of the newsworthy women of the day. These opportunities do not come by accident, and have been prevalent these many months. Each time I am more resolved that this is truly the right mission.
I spent a quiet dinner with a long time friend Chuck, professor at Benedict College, and then off for some much needed rest.
Tomorrow: Meeting with Joe Wilson and General Stan Spears.
November 2, 2010 Election Day
Hopefully everyone went out today and voted for the candidates of their choice. Our military men and women sacrifice everything to protect and defend that right and I thank them everyday. The best way I believe to be grateful for their service is to exorcise those constitutional rights.
Today was a travel day, headed to Georgia, however before I left Atlanta I was invited to speak at the Vietnam Veteran’s Business Association lunch meeting. This was an amazing group of Vietnam Vets, planted in the business community around Atlanta. I was given a few minutes to share the message and the vision and received a standing ovation from the nearly 200 in attendance. I was humbled by their overwhelming support and will be following up with the group as we move forward.
Off to Columbia for a 3 hour drive and staying with an Army Sergent friend for a couple of days while I prepare for South Carolina. Of course this evening spent some time watching election returns, but can honestly tell you that if I learned anything along this journey its is never to get involved in politics.
Tomorrow: Ceremony at State Capitol 10am.
November 1, 2010
Open day, administrative errands and moved on to the home of Bill and Margaret Aikens. Had a wonderful dinner and will rest for tomorrows meeting and 5 hour drive to Columbia.
Tomorrow: Vietnam Veterans meeting
October 31, 2010 Halloween
Today was another casual open day. There was no church opportunity. I have to say that it is difficult for a pastor to share pulpit time with me. Pastors who are not familiar with my message would have to break from their planned service to fit in an unknown. This is difficult on many levels but primarily they have no idea how long I would end up speaking. Ironic thing is that those pastors who have given me that opportunity have wished they would have given me even more time. I certainly do wish that more church opportunities had opened up, but am extremely grateful for those which had.
Today Jason and I installed a set of brakes on his son’s car and then went to a sports restaurant and fellowshipped while watching football for the afternoon. Had a quiet dinner and evening (greeting trick or treaters) and tomorrow head to a Blue Star families home as I move toward Columbia.
Tomorrow: Yet to reveal itself.
- Beautiful ceremony on steps of FL state capitol. Honored lcdr guy houston, 1969 vietnam. Thanks pgr for standing for the family. AL tonight. #
- Now entering Georgia. Alabama was incredible. See journal post. #
- Looking for a church opportunty to speak Sunday in atlanta area. Please let me know. #
- Very unfortunate today, complete tire destruction, 3 hours on the side of the road and 300 dollars. I am ok. http://twitpic.com/3275xa #
October 30, 2010
Open day today to run errands, catch up on my responsibilities like journaling and blogging and generally relax. I was also to spend some quality time with Florence and lean more about her hero navy son.
Tomorrow: Vet fest speaking opportunity
October 29, 2010
Headed back to the state capitol this morning for a scheduled ceremony. Blue star mom Cindy Wiley had planned the event and I was looking forward to bringing the message to Georgia. The ceremony opened beautifully on the inside steps of the capitol to amazing marble architecture with the National Guardsman posting colors, the pledge of allegiance and our national anthem. I was able to speak intimately to the audience about the message and the journey. And of course bring tribute to three special mothers. Mrs O’neal and Mrs. Franklin who lost their sons in Vietnam and Mrs McSween who lost her son Adam in 2007, Iraq. This was followed by a flag presentation to the state being represented by Major General Britt, Adjutant. A very moving event which touched the lives of everyone in attendance. Mrs O’Neal mentioned particularly that it took 32 years for anyone to recognize that her son had been killed. It was my sincere honor to remember them all today specifically by name.
After the capitol I headed to a pre-arranged meeting at Chic-Fil-A headquarters. Chic-Fil-A in Virginia has been very supportive of Honor and Remember and I am hoping we can expand their interest across the country. It was a very successful meeting with a variety of brainstorming. Although Truitt Cathey was not in I did get a view of his office. More to follow up in the future.
On the way back to my host home I was flagged down by a motorist. My rear tire had completely disintegrated and was hanging by shards. After calling AAA, which I had signed up for before I left, I was back on the road. Of course it took nearly 3 hours and cost a whopping $300. Thank God I was safe.
Tomorrow: Open day
October 28, 2010
I drove the 200 miles from Montgomery to Atlanta today in time to meet Julie from CNN. She was interested in following some of my journey and producing a feature piece on the mission. After some extensive interviewing she hoped to put a lengthy piece together and get in on-air. Please add your prayers to mine that they actually complete and broadcast the message.
I headed to the state capitol and with some precision parking in this very busy city went on a search to find some legislators. In a round about way I found Rep Yates who had co-sponsored Honor and Remember legislation last March. Mr Yates being a WWII fighter pilot was very welcoming and we discussed at length the status of patriotism today. He then took me to visit the House floor where we met a group of older generation veterans and I was able to actually share with them in the chamber. What an unexpected pleasure to share the message there and to a most welcoming crowd. These are the unexpected nuggets that brighten a day and strengthen the resolve of what I purpose to do.
Tonight I enjoyed the hospitality of the Estopinal family. Gold star parents who lost their son Jason in Afghanistan Feb 15, 2010. God continues to bless me as I am able to meet such amazing people along this path.
Tomorrow: State Capitol ceremony 11am.