Group Presents Families with Flags for Fallen Soldiers

By: Scott Fairbanks | Rochester YNN

A tour remembering those who died serving our country with a special flag was in Rochester to honor two fallen soldiers.
“Honor and Remember” is an organization aiming to promote a new national symbol honoring all those who died in military service.

The group presented its flag to two area families before Wednesday’s Red Wings game.

One was for Gerald Wilson, who died when his helicopter was shot down in Vietnam. The second was for Staff Sergeant Nekl Allen, who died last year in Wardak Province, Afghanistan.

“Honor and Remember” hopes a bill in Congress will pass, making its flag a national symbol.

Day 17 – Rochester, New York

June 23, 2010

Waking up refreshed in Rochester we had a jam packed day ahead of us. The morning started off with a visit to the Army 98th Training Division. There we were able to meet the wonderful people at the community support center. It is an important mission Marianne and her team have to reach out to our veterans and their families, especially those of our fallen. While there Col Wegman took us on a tour of the facility and explained the important work they do to prepare our young solders. The 98th will be hosting the Redwings game tonight for our flag presentation!

We continued on our day to our next stop, the Veterans Outreach Center. This is a very unique facility as it serves the veterans of the region in amazing ways. Just about every need is covered from financial to emotional counseling as well s physical needs. I have never seen such a diverse facility and believe to be unique in the state. Thanks to Col Jim McDonough, Jocene and staff for welcoming us and embracing our vision. We will not forget your dedication to our heroes. Also at the center with us were two amazing Gold Star families, Patti and Bill Bager and Nancy Fontana, it was my sincere honor to meet them and share stories of our kids, I am so grateful for these new friends and our special connection.

While at the VOC about 25 of the Rochester Patriot Guard Riders began to gather for an escort ride to the Redwings game. What a sincere honor it was to be escorted through the city to the game. While there we were escorted with flags into the field, prior to the game, and presented personalized flags to two special families. One to Jack Wilson who lost his brother in Vietnam, Spc Gerald Wilson kia in 1968 and the other to the Allen family who lost their son Sgt Nekl B. Allen killed in Afghanistan, 12 Sept 2009. A very powerful and moving tribute witnessed by the fans of the Rochester Redwings. The presence of Nigel and the other PGR members was an amazing addition to this respectful moment and added to the memories of these families who have given so much for us all.

Tomorrow: Travel day to Harrisburg to prepare for legislative visit and flag presentation at state capitol.

Needs: Prayer, accommodations and financial resources.

Blessings, George

Day 16 – Syracuse, New York

June 22, 2010

This morning started very relaxing and with a wonderful breakfast at the Parkers. After proper hugs goodbye we headed to Hancock Air field outside Syracuse. It was about a 2 hour ride and I was most excited because I was going to see my friend Kate. She has been a long time part of the team and was visiting her sister who had arranged our Syracuse visit.  Back at Hancock,  I was able to meet the commander and many of the airmen there as I shared the mission of our journey. I was able to present an Honor and Remember Flag to the base and they will be displaying it at an appropriate location. Thanks to Teri for the super arrangements.

After a much needed lunch Kate took us to the cemetery where her son was buried. Christopher Simpson kia March 17, 2008  Iraq. Surrounded by several gardens and an inscribed bench, what beautiful and peaceful place. Chris’ corner was most certainly a respectful opportunity to reflect on his service to us all. I am so honored to have had that moment to pay my respects to such a great man and share it with so special a lady as Kate.

We concluded our afternoon with a few errands and then off to Rochester for a relaxing evening at Phyllis’ house.

Tomorrow: 11am 98th Army reserve Division. 2:30pm veterans outreach center. 7pm Rochester Redwings game.

Needs: Still looking for a place to stay in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Plymouth meeting areas.

Blessings, George

Day 15 – Albany, New York

June 21, 2010

Left 5am from our incredible visit with the Grays. Four hour drive to Albany NY, where we had a scheduled meeting with Bil Kraus, exec dep director of NY veteran affairs, John Egan, commissioner and Jim Huelle, direc of government affairs. The meeting was very positive and I received the full support from these offices in New York. From there Mr Kraus was able to arrange a meeting with state senator Eric Adams. Gold Star father Moe Fletcher from Long Island was able to arrange a meeting with his state senator Skelos, and I had already made previous contact with senator Golden. I was unable to reach the governor this visit due to the last minute negotiations on the NY state budget, however I was able to have a brief meeting with senator Leibell, veterans committee chair, who has agreed to introduce Honor and Remember legislation in New York. Also while in the city I was able to arrange an interview on channel 10 Albany news I have no idea if a story ran, but it was recorded.

During the morning we were taken on a tour of all of the incredible war memorials built around the state capital. Albany has taken much effort in honoring the many veterans who have served and the memory of all that has been sacrificed through each war. Please when you get a chance visit these monuments with the reverence and respect they were intended for.

Back in the car and on the way to Camden, another 2 1/2 hours to meet up with Donna and Rene Parker. On the way I was able to meet up with Chris Belona, mother to Jon who started the Run for the Fallen movement. Chris passed to us a couple of flags we would be presenting and some goodies for the trip. What a super lady! Arriving in Camden, Donna had arranged a beautiful ceremony Monday evening at the Eli Parker community center, named after her son. The event was an opportunity to meet with many Gold Star families, community leaders, veteran organizations and town citizens. I was able to share our mission and was very warmly received. It is so difficult to express the depth of the emotion that I feel and also that I receive when I speak to so many who are so supportive. Person after person representing so many aspects of New York, expressed support and an eagerness to share our vision. Senate staff, Delegates, post commanders, city officials, gold star families and patriotic citizens.  This message is catching on, and I continue to be strengthened as I meet some of the best folks in this land.

Last night I visited at length with the wonderful Gold star families in this area of New York, It is amazing to be able to share stories and to hear such passion and love from other parent. I continue to be humbled to be a voice for these precious families. Exhausted now, time to sleep.

Tomorrow: Syracuse, Rochester and beyond.

Needs: We are looking for possible accommodations in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh or Plymouth meeting areas of PA.

Blessings, George

Day 14 – Vermont

June 20, 2010 – Father’s day

Another beautiful morning began with a wonderful Marion Vermont breakfast. After which we hopped into her solid black hummer (yes I said hummer) and headed toward Albany, VT. Didn’t know they had an Albany, VT but off we went. We were headed to Albany United Methodist church where we met Nate and Vicki Strong, pastors. The Strongs lost their son Jesse in Iraq 26 Jan 2005. Mr Strong was gracious to allow me time on the pulpit this morning to talk about my children, grandchildren and share the mission of Honor and Remember. I cannot describe the acceptance and emotion of the congregation and the morning.

They have erected a beautiful flag pole in the front of the building in memory of Vermont’s fallen. Following the service we went out front and had a flag raising ceremony. It was a touching and tearful moment as we raised the Honor and Remember Flag for so many lost in this great state. We then joined the congregation for some social time where we were able to meet the great people of Albany one on one.

Exhausted we drove an hour back to the Grays for an afternoon picnic and nap.  Oh and then a 4 wheeler tour of their Vermont farm, which was spectacular. We were given a jug of homemade maple syrup from their own trees, so if you meet us on the road, maybe we will make pancakes. It has been a tremendous trip to Vermont and the hospitality here amazing, It will be most difficult to leave here tomorrow at 5:30am.

Tomorrow: 4 hour drive to Albany, NY for meeting with Veteran Affairs Sec and a few Senator meetings. Then 2 hour drive to Camden for evening meeting, see itinerary.

Blessings, George

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-06-20

  • On my way to Living Rock church, Saybrook CT #
  • Drove into Providence, RI. We met the first Governor in our travels today and had him to sign our Pledge of support. #
  • Ariving in boston for a flag presentation at the state capitol. #
  • Left Boston with a memorable flag ceremony in the state capitol with many legislators and gold star families. More details on the blog. #
  • I have a ceremony planned for a vietnam mom in Augusta Maine 10am hall of flags. I have no attendees, help! #
  • Up 5am headed to a ceremony in Augusta, ME. Hall of flags 10am. #
  • Wonderful ceremony in the state capitol of ME. Headed to the next presentation in Old Orchard Beach 2pm. 9 hours of driving today. #
  • Just concluded a ceremony for cpt chris cash in ME. On our way to a weekend in VT. Amazing state. 4 hour drive ahead. pouring rain… #
  • Had a great meeting with VT governor Jim Douglas. #
  • Beautiful sunset in rural Vermont. #
  • Today @ 3pm. Veterans memorial cemetery, randolf center VT. Special ceremony. All are welcome #
  • The view from outside the bedroom window in Montpelier, VT #
  • An actual VT sugar maple tree with tubing. #
  • HR flag on the right. Flying at the vermont vet cemetery. #

Day 13 – Vermont

June 19, 2010

This morning we were able to sleep in for the first time. A beautiful Vermont morning, I actually posted a picture on twitter looking outside the bedroom window. Marion made a wonderful pancake breakfast with homemade Vermont maple syrup. Now about the maple syrup, it came from the Gray’s very own trees up on the hill (picture also posted). We were taken up to view firsthand the steps of tapping the sugar maples, including the flow lines, the catch basin and the boiling process. This was an amazing education for us to be able to follow the actual production of syrup from tree to refrigerator.  Mrs Butterworths has nothing on Mrs Gray.

After a relaxing morning, which is one we needed by the way, we headed to Randolf Center Vermont for the Veterans memorial cemetery. A ceremony was planned for 3p at there where we were able to meet several Gold Star families, their friends, local dignitaries and a great group from the Combat Vets. The overall memorial facility is absolutely beautiful with a gorgeous chapel where we visited before the event. We all then gathered at the Circle of Flags in the center of the cemetery. After the posting of the colors and invocation I spoke to the group about the vision of the Honor and Remember Flag and was overwhelmingly embraced. Of course the heart of our time was to honor publicly a special Gold Star mom, Mrs Olive Pettis who lost her son SPC Steven G. Pettis ~ 14 May 1969 ~ Vietnam.

The beauty of the scenery and the solemness of the location added to the respectful significance of why we had all gathered. After the personalized presentation to Mrs Pettis, I then presented a special personalized flag in gratitude to all of  the Vermont Fallen Heroes. The Gold Star families ceremoniously raised it on an open pole amongst the ring of flags. This Honor and remember flag will now have a permanent place in this circle representing all of the states fallen and their families. This was a perfect day in many many ways, the wonderful people I have met and the enthusiasm we have experienced is beyond words. Thank you Vermont.

Tomorrow: Fathers day, speaking at a local church in Albany, VT

Blessings, George

Day 12 – Vermont

June 18, 2010

An incredible day as I woke up with an amazing view of the Worcester range of the green  mountains of Vermont. Out my window looking west toward Camels Hump.  The Grays are hosting us here and Marion has been such a blessing in making us feel like part of the family.  She and Steve have a beautiful farm, with real Vermont maple trees! They are Gold Star parents and lost their son SSgt Jamie A. Gray ~  7 June 2004 ~ Iraq. This is a terrible club we have all joined but it has the most amazing members anyone could ever meet.

This morning we had to move quickly out the door because I had made an early appointment with the state Adjutant general, MG Dubie. It was an hour drive and a very relaxed meeting as I shared the mission and received the generals support.  He will be helping me to make contact with the TAGs from other states ahead.

Following this meeting we drove to Montpelier to meet with the Sec of Veteran Affairs, Clayton Clark then on to a meeting with Senator Doyle and a very important face to face meeting with Governor Jim Douglas. This is the second governor we have been able to meet and he enthusiastically signed our pledge of support.

About this time we were hungry and stopped for a nice lunch. Marion surprised me by taking us to granite industries of Vermont that was sculpting their granite statue for the amazing memorial they have planned for the Vermont Fallen Heroes.  What I didn’t realize was that this company made all of the gravestones for Arlington Cemetery and I was able to meet Linda, who made the stone for my Tony and all the others from the War on terror. I honestly could hardly contain the emotion as I hugged the woman who has indirectly touched the lives of every grieving family.

From there we were taken to Rock of Ages Granite company, an incredible place which contains a huge rock quarry. Enough supply of granite for 4,000 years, so this was impressive. We were able to see how granite is mined, sculpted and polished. A truly amazing operation. The day concluded with a visit to Jamie’s gravesite, which happened to be on their own property. A solemn moment as we stood over his well maintained grave and listened to  his proud mother recount story after story of his wonderful and amazing contribution to his family, his community and his nation.

An exhausting yet very rewarding day.

Tomorrow: Special ceremony at Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Randolf Center, VT, Furnace Rd. 3pm

Blessings, George

Day 11 – Maine

June 17, 2010

Today was an early morning wake up for a 3 hour trip to Augusta Maine. We scheduled a 10 am ceremony for the Hall of Flags at the state capitol. We arrived in time to scout the state house and meet the governors staff. While there we left a packet at his office for future reference. We did meet with state senator Jon Courtney who signed the pledge and agreed to support legislation in Maine.

At 10am we stood in the Hall of flags with Peter Ogden, Sec of Veteran Affairs, several invited guests and Thelma Brooks, Gold star mom from Maine with her son and daughter. We were there to bring tribute to her hero son SGT Richard James Goggin who lost his life saving another in Vietnam in 1971. It was a sincere privedge to present to Mrs Brooks today a personalized flag in her honor. I know most of you cannot imagine the power of the emotional bond of one Gold Star family member to another, however I tell you that if I can continue to touch the lives of individuals like Thelma, my life will have been richly blessed.

After the presentation we headed to Old Orchard Beach, 90 minutes away, where we had a second ceremony planned for Nancy Kelley in tribute to her son Cpt Chris Cash who was killed in Iraq in 2004. There were a number of veterans and friends there supporting the family as well as local news. It was a touching moment to be able to reach out to Nancy in her town and share this vision of remembrance with those who care. We are moving on to Vermont tonight, 4 hour drive, to be fresh in the morning as we forge ahead. Thank you all for supporting this incredible journey. Please continue to pray and get  the word out to the states ahead of me. If you can support us financially in any way that would also move us down the road a little bit further.

Tomorrow: Visit with TAG in VT and at the state house tentatively with the governor.

Blessings, George

Day 10 – New Hampshire

June 16, 2010

The Petersons live on a beautiful farm in NH. Pasture land surrounds the property. The weather is gorgeous, no humidity, air clean and crisp. No wonder we slept so well. Or perhaps it was the sheer exhaustion of driving last night.

I was excited about the day as we headed to the state capitol for a special ceremony. Today we gathered under the dome of this historic building surrounded by over two hundred years of American flags that had survived the years of combat from the revolution forward. It was here that many were in attendance to hear about the mission and to give tribute to two special New Hampshire families. Along with many veterans groups,  active duty and blue star mothers represented, we were privileged to have US Senator Bradley, state senator Bob Letourneau, Al Baldasaro and other NH legislators involved. However it was the presence of Gold Star families and friends which made the event so meaningful.

After a few words from the Senator, I was able to openly share the mission and received overwhelming acceptance and endorsement. After which, in following with the heart of our vision I presented personalized flags in tribute to Jim and Lynn for the loss of their son Cpl Matthew J Stanley ~ 16 Dec 2006 ~ Iraq and also to Mary Schweitzer on the loss of her brother HM2 Martin L Gillespie Jr ~ 21 Mar 1966 ~ Vietnam.

A few of the families broke bread together at lunch and we were able to have a terrific time of sharing and making new friends. The Gold Star community, although the worst club to belong to, has some of the best people you would ever meet. Thanks to Blue star mom Susan Peterson for a wonderfully amazing New Hampshire visit.

Tomorrow: 5:30 am drive to Augusta, Maine where the day will start with a flag ceremony for Vietnam mom Mrs Thelma Brooks, at the ME state capitol Hall of Flags, 10am. Following at the Orchard Beach Town Hall 2pm a second ceremony for Gold Star mom Mrs. Nancy Kelley.

Blessings, George

Day 9 – Massachusetts

June 15, 2010

Lets call today a three state day. Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It began with a terrific breakfast with Sharon Serio in Rhode Island, we then headed to Boston for an afternoon ceremony at the state house. Debra Booth arranged an amazing event held right inside the capitol under the incredible architecture and paintings depicting the historic roots of this great state. This was the first state ever where a personalized flag ceremony was held in the capitol itself.

Attending the ceremony was Medal of Honor recipient Tom Kelley, who emceed, and state senator Steve Brewer, who spoke a few words, as well as many state delegates and invited Gold Star families and friends.  This was a beautiful opportunity to share the vision to all who attended and to bring tribute to two very special families. Mrs. Mary Ellen Callahan in memory of her son Sgt William J. Callahan and Mrs. Chris Devlin in tribute to her son lost in Beirut, LCpl Michael J. Devlin.

The support was overwhelming as each legislator signed our pledge and I believe will move legislation forward in MA.

We gathered afterwords for lunch with many of the Gold Star families, in Warren Tavern, a favorite place of Paul Revere. James and Dolly Sullivan, Bev and Flo Johnson, Debra Booth, Mary Ellen Callahan and Chris Devlin (dept president of AGSM MA & RI). The time of fellowship and sharing was a touching punctuation to the event of the day.  And by the way the clam chowder was the best I ever had.

I am blessed to be able to carry this message for so many who have lost so much. Headed for New Hampshire and the Petersons, for a good nights sleep.

Tomorrow: New Hampshire for a special ceremony at the Concord State House at 11am.

Blessings, George

Day 8 – Rhode Island

June 14, 2010

Today is a very special day for many reasons. It is Flag day and the day we honor our American flag and all it means to us as Americans, its the 235th birthday of the US Army, recognizing this great institution and the amazing history of what this branch of our military embodies and third it is my wife’s birthday and I am reminded of the sacrifice she has made for this country and for me to be separated for months to embark on this historic mission.

The day began with a drive from CT to RI, about two hours. We arrived at our host’s home the Serios around 10am. After unwinding a few minutes Sharon took us over to the state capitol for a special flag ceremony and Military Community Covenant signing.  There we met the RI Gov Donald Carcieri and he became the First governor to sign our pledge to make Honor and Remember their state symbol.  Many military were in attendance, including Adjutant General Bray and many local officials.

Following, we drove to Bristol, RI where I spoke before the state veterans affairs committee at the Veteran’s Home. I was met with overwhelming support and they decided on the spot to include two flags for their upcoming 4th of July parade.

At 5:30 we had a special ceremony at the local National Guard armory. MG Bray spoke at the event and then I was able to share the vision of what we are trying to achieve. The most memorable part of the evening was two personalized flag presentations to Gold Star families. The August family in memory of CPT Matthew August ~ 27 Jan 2004 ~ Iraq and to Mrs. Doris Supranovic in tribute to her son, SP4 Joseph E. Cayer KIA in Korea 1968 . This was a very moving event attended by several RI Gold Star families. Donna and Dick August, Ed and Regina Roberts, Donna Coutu, Melissa and Ron Coutu, Elizabeth Iacovino, Sharon and Anthony Serio as well as invited others.

Immediately following we had dinner with John Powers from Operation Vets and Rep Karen MacBeth, district 52. Both were very gracious, understanding and supportive,  John Promised to rally his national network around our cause and Rep MacBeth has promised to do what is necessary to get Honor and Remember legislation passed in RI!!!

Day 8 was in a word amazing.

Tomorrow: Flag presentation ceremony at the state house in Boston, 1:30 Nurses Hall.

Blessings, George

Day 7 – Connecticut

June 13, 2010

Today is a day for worship and thanksgiving. This week has been amazing with opportunities to share continuously. As you can imagine, from reading my itinerary and this weeks posts, the trip is physically demanding and emotionally straining. Each day I share my story with all in attendance but also share the grief with the many Gold Star families I meet. I continue to pray for God’s hand on each of these lives and for the strength to continue what I belive must be accomplished.

I was invited to speak today at Living Rock Church in Killingworth, CT. What a joy it was to participate in their service, first to worship and then to share our vision of remembrance. Pastor Ryan and his congregation warmly welcomed me and the mission was overwhelmingly received. I was humbled by the response of all in attendance and actually realized many connections from the past among some of the congregation.

I was especially touched by Pastors Ryan and Dale Young who had lost their son 6 years ago to seizures. What a courageous testimony they have and a powerful ministry to the community. I also met a young retired serviceman who had been struggling emotionally for many years with some military related issues. With broken emotion he thanked me for the mission and said that today because of my words was able to bring closure to this part of his life.

I hope that everyone realizes and I will say this more and more, this is not just a piece of cloth flying in the wind, it represents hundreds of thousands of hurting and broken lives that deserve to be one step closer to healing. The effect of what we do will resonate beyond what I or we ever could have imagined. Pray for strenth and endurance.

Tomorrow: Headed to Rhode Island for a Flag day parade and a special personalized presentation at 5:30.

Blessings, George

Day 6 – Connecticut

June 12, 2010

Last evening we arrived late into Connecticut, staying with a local Gold Star mom we hit the bed hard. This morning we had a chance to take our time a bit but had to be at our next destination in Trumbull, an hour away, at 11am.  The event we were attending today was the annual Fallen Heroes Memorial. It was a fabulous day planned to completely honor Connecticut’s fallen military men and women. Dozens of GS families were in attendance as well as a navy band, the CT attorney general, Congressman Jim Hines and several other speakers.  I was also able to reconnect to MG Mark Graham whom I had met in DC last year.

Here is the website

I was on the program as a speaker and was able to share the flag and its symbolism. More importantly I presented a flag to Mrs K. Cardona, in honor of her husband, SSgt Ronald W Cardona ~ 06 July 1969 ~ Vietnam. This was a moving time as she and her two daughters accepted the personalized flag. I want to thank those CT Gold Star families for the honor of meeting them and for embracing this mission of remembrance for their loved ones.  I will do all I can to bring public recognition to their sacrifice and work tirelessly to be sure each receives a personalized flag.

Tomorrow: I will be speaking at Live Rock Church in Killingsworth, CT.

Blessings, George

Day 5 – New York City

June 11, 2010

After maybe 3 hours sleep, woke up this morning and headed into NYC at 4am. We arrived at Rockefeller Plaza at around 630 to meet 4 other Gold Star families. Our goal was to reach out to the Today Show but the area was jammed packed with people because of a visit by Rascal Flatts. We tried to get close to the stage to get on camera but to no avail. It had been indicated to us that we would have an interview, but we could not reach anyone to verify. After about 30 minutes we decided to move down to Fox studios to try them.

Actually after about 30 minutes country singer Clay Walker came out to play and was soon followed by the hosts of Fox and Friends. I will make this a short story by telling you that we managed to interest a producer in our mission and were asked for an interview on the internet news program Strategy Room. See video.

While there we met some other great contacts and will follow up with them for future assistance.

After the interview we headed to Ft Hamilton where we participated in a US Army birthday celebration. This was a wonderful tribute to over 200 years of Army history. We were able to meet several influential people including state senator Golden, who signed our pledge.

Staying in CT for tonight and tomorrow will participate in a Fallen Hero event in Trumbul.

Blessings, George

'Honor and Remember Tour' Kicks Off in Va.

By Charlene Israel
CBN News Reporter
Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Virginia Beach, Va. — The father of a soldier killed in Iraq has begun a cross country trek to gain support for the adoption of a symbol to recognize all Americans who have been killed in military service. The kickoff for the Honor and Remember Across America tour was held on the grounds of the Christian Broadcasting Network and Regent University last weekend.

When George Lutz’s son Tony was killed in Iraq in 2005, he set out on a mission to ensure that his son’s sacrifice would never be forgotten.

“Two years ago on Memorial Day we launched this idea. A silly little idea that we needed to publicly remember our fallen,” Lutz said.

The loss inspired Lutz to design the Honor and Remember flag — which he hopes will one day fly in all 50 states as a tribute to American heroes.

It has already been adopted as official state symbols in Virginia and Oklahoma. Currently, nine other states have pending legislation to also adopt the flag.

Lutz’s mission has he sees it is to travel the country from coast to coast, sharing his message about fallen American heroes along the way.

“My initial goal across the country was to meet with governors and lawmakers in different states who could establish legislation, but also Gold Star families who have lost a loved one and be able to share the message with them to be able to touch their heart — show them the nation really does care that they want to remember,” he explained.

Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., was a key sponsor of a bill currently before the U.S. Congress designating the flag as a national symbol.

“I think that it’s great,” Forbes said. “Virginia is always a leader in so many areas and I think the governor made a great first step by letting other governors know how important this is and I think that will help the reception George will get when he travels around the nation.”

Lutz has also received support from local area businesses.

“Everybody was so thrilled and we were able to get all the Chic-fil-A’s in Hampton Roads, Va. on board, it was 23 total,” said Chic-Fil-A rep Scott Berry. “And it was just a thrill to see the money coming in and to write those check and to write that final check for $9,000.”

Families who have lost loved ones to war said a national symbol recognizing their sacrifices is long overdue.

Lutz’s tour will take him to at all of the state capitols and he will meet with families who loved ones died while in service to their country. He will end his 22,000 mile trip in Arlington National Cemetary, in Arlingtin, Va. on Nov.11, Veterans Day.

But until then there is much work to be done.

“That will be just the beginning, because once it becomes a national symbol, then it’s only flying,” Lutz said. “There’s still lives to be touched and people to be reached and that will be the continuation of the mission and I’ll do that the rest of my life.”

Day 4 – New Jersey

June 10, 2010

Continuing our stay with Judi Tapper, had a wonderful breakfast, ran some errands and headed to Memorial Park in Atco, where we met up with Neil from RT and several of the warrior watch riders. We were then escorted by motorcycle about 50 miles, to Trenton the state capitol.  In Trenton we met up with Wendy Lang at the capitol steps. Gold star sister Heidi Galloway also drove in to meet us on the steps.With our 5×8 flag on display I took the podium and with a handful of spectators  spoke about our mission. We did have several local news reporters covering our visit and hopefully we gained a bit more awareness today.

In keeping with our goals, after our mini event outside we went into the capit0l to find legislators to sign our pledge. It took about an hour but the senate was in session and before we left had 6 signatures from senators in support of Honor and Remember legislation! This is the most from one state so far.

Judy, Alex and I had one more mission today and that was at the home of Frank and Marion Juranic. These parents lost their son in 1968 in Vietnam. Our presentation was supposed to be at the capitol but due to a recent heart attack by Mr Juranic, he was unable to travel. Needless to say this was one of my most memorable presentations as with all of us in tears we talked about their son Francis and of how deeply touched they were to receive a personalized flag. Over and over their words of gratefulness broke through their emotion. After 40 years of reminding people they had lost a son in war they were holding a tangible gift that reminded them he had not been forgotten. This was the first presentation I have made to an intact couple, father and mother from the Vietnam era. Unforgettable.

Special note: I am so overwhelmed by what is transpiring each day that I hadn’t realized that I forgot my computer back in MD.   After unpacking and re-packing the car I called Tracy and sure enough they were at her house. She was so kind to meet us half way and that is how I can blog today. God bless you Tracy!

Tomorrow: Leaving for New york City at 4am to arrive at 630am at Rockefeller Plaza to hopefully find a spot on the Today Show. Several Gold Star families will be joining us. Stay Tuned!

Blessings, George

Day 3 – Maryland/New Jersey

June 9, 2010

MD. The day began with a visit to Annapolis MD, her GSD Jim Duffy gave us a first class tour of the academy where both he and his son had graduated. This is a spectacular facility where our future navy and marine officers are trained. Following the tour we visited the officers club for lunch. Several Gold Star families were gathered to break bread and have wonderful fellowship. Cindy Lohman, Tracy Miller, Carol Roddy and Mr and Mrs Duffy.

NJ. After about a 3 hour drive to Atco, NJ we are staying at the home of GSM Judi Tapper. She is our point of contact in NJ and had arranged for our visit here. the evening started with an unbelievable police and Warrior Watch Rider motorcycle escort through the town about 20 miles to the American Legion post in Cherry Hill. Alex was completely blown away. This was so amazing and a first for us as police cars stopped traffic at every intersection along our route. Once arriving we were greeted with a flag line from the yellow ribbon club and a packed out AL hall. The program was outstanding as speakers came to the podium to recognize the importance of our mission. State senator Jim Beach spoke and the mayor of Cherry Hill, with proclamation, declared June 9th Honor and Remember Day.  The music was beautiful and we were warmly embraced by the entire community.

At the conclusion of the program I was privileged to participate in a special personalized flag presentation to Mr and Mrs Hicks in tribute to their son Jon. This was made possible by the sponsorship of the Waterford Twp. War Memorial Committee. After which I had a surprise of my own as Judi tapper was honored with a flag in memory of her son David. The American Legion commander ended the evening with a generous donation to our cause.

Tremendous day, one blessing after another. I am deeply encouraged that this mission is the right thing to do at the right time. Please continue to pray, share our vision and support our cause.

Tomorrow: Headed to the NJ state capitol for an event at 1pm.

Blessings, George

Ceremony in Cherry Hill at the American Legion where two flags were presented and the

American Legion made a generous contribution and you received a Proclamation from the Twp. of Cherry Hill.