Day 125 – Houston, TX – Little Rock, AR

October 10, 2010

Today is 10-10-10, not sure of the significance of that but for me its a 12 hour drive to Little Rock.  Today on my way however I have to make a slight deviation. I headed two hours to Orange TX to meet a man I consider a dear friend, Mike McQueen. Mike is a Vietnam combat veteran, functioning under severe disabilities. He was to have come to Houston for the picnic yesterday but wasn’t up to making the drive.  Mike contacted me two years ago after hearing about Honor and Remember. He had lost his marine nephew Shane and wanted flags to honor him to fly in his city. Now after two years of correspondence, the one person I had to connect with in Texas was Mr McQueen.  If you read back to one of my earlier newsletters in 2008 you will see a post by Mike and know the reason it was so important to meet. The meeting was incredible and tearful and I am so thankful to God for the opportunity. I pray Mike’s health continues to improve as he struggles so desperately with service related issues.

The rest of the 10 hour drive was very much uneventful except for the company of good radio stations and beautiful scenery.

Tomorrow: Day of rest

Blessings, George

Day 124 – Houston, TX

October 9, 2010

Today I am visiting Houston Texas, there had not been alot planned for the weekend here, but one event I was very much looking forward to.  I was invited to a Gold Star family/friends  picnic at the Millers, Susie and Lewis lost their son Billy in the Battle for Falujah in 2004. On July 4th 2009 I was privileged to present to them, in a special ceremony at the 1/8 marine reunion in Washington, DC, a personalized flag. Twenty one flags were presented to the families that day in tribute of those killed in that fight for the city.

Today we gathered at their home for a relaxing time of sharing and getting to know each other more as a family. To have the opportunity to sit and laugh and hear great stories from each family was truly inspiring. I was amazed that there could be such a sharing of great memories and so little tears. There were four families who had lost sons and each so proud of their heroes. Each son loving with a passion their county, their service and their job. I am constantly humbled to meet so many wonderful people and to be shown so vividly their support of the Honor and Remember mission.

Tomorrow: 400 mile Road trip to Arkansas

Blessings, George

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-10-10

  • Amazing visit on Ft Hood, I am continuously humbled by the strong GS women I meet, both mothers and widows. Heading to Austin for tomorrow. #
  • The Austin capitol presentation was amazing. Today I speak at the Alamo in a special ceremony with the Daughters of the American Revolution. #
  • Desperatley need help in jackson mississippi area with ceremony and appointments, please contact me if you can help. #

Day 122 – San Antonio, TX

October 7, 2010

This morning it is San Antonio and the opportunities of the day. Two important events began with a meeting with the owner of Dixie Flag. Pete is a distributor of Annin products, Annin is our manufacturer and wholesaler of screen printed HR flags. Our meeting included lunch and we had a wonderful discussion on the business of flagmaking in the US and the potential of Honor and Remember.  I learned Dixie has made some of the largest flags ever displayed including a 60 x 90 foot flying from the GW bridge in NYC. After a short tour of his facility Pete accompanied me downtown to the Alamo.

The Daughters of the Texas Republic arranged today for a beautiful ceremony outside the front doors of the Alamo. Included in the ceremony was the Color Guard from VFW Post 76 the oldest active VFW Post in Texas. Also present was U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez and several Gold Star families from the area. Included were many tourists who happened to be visiting at the same time, who I believe received this added bonus. We were there to honor Gloria Caldas mother of Army Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas with a personalized flag. It was an incredible opportunity to share the mission and present in such an historic site. A place where so many lost their lives in defense of freedom. While there I was also able to present a flag to Virginia Van Cleave, Alamo Committee chairwoman and the daughters that they will be displaying onsite.

View San Antonio Express-News

A very momentous day that will forever be significant in my travel through Texas. I am of course so grateful to have met so many wonderful Gold star families and be able to share even briefly each loved one’s story. My family continues to grow in my quest for public remembrance.

Tomorrow: Head to Houston for Saturday Picnic at the Millers.

Blessings, George

Day 121 – Austin, TX

October 6, 2010

This morning was a sleep in day, til 8am anyway. Ha that is late for me. I had a scheduled lunch appointment with Allen Bergeron and Nancy Glass.  Allen works for the city of Austin as the mayors veteran’s council. Nancy is the director of Operation Honor our Heroes. Allen had arranged a meeting for us with the Mayor of Austin at 3pm.  Mayor Leffingwell was extremely gracious and very supportive, after an opportunity to share my vision he said,  “We have an open spot for the Honor and Remember Flag right on our Council platform”. The meeting was great and they will soon be passing a resolution to adopt the flag in their city.

It was a sincere pleasure to visit the city of Austin and with the ceremony yesterday a perfect conclusion to this leg of Texas.  Before leaving today I was able to record a video tribute to a family who will receive a personalized flag on Nov 10th. My first opportunity of this kind and I hope a memorable one for the family.

I headed south to San Antonio, where I was invited to attend the opening ceremonies of the Vietnam Veterans Security Police Association. It was their annual meeting this year in San Antonio. Richard Holstein, friend from Chicago area had arranged for my visit. It was a great evening and I was able to meet and share with wonderful veterans.

Tomorrow: Alamo presentation 2pm

Blessings, George

Day 120 – Austin, TX

October 5, 2010

Today I woke up ready to start the day. I met Gold Star mother Faith Zimmerman for breakfast and we strategized about the noon ceremony. At the Texas capitol rotunda in Austin, Nancy Glass arranged for a special presentation of four personalized flags. I drove the RV down to the capitol to get some visibility and could only get to the outer ring of the building. Once parked Faith and I headed inside. Inside we had to go through the scanners and one of the Police troopers was a Gold Star dad. We were very surprised to find this out and invited him to the ceremony. Faith had been given a portrait of her son by Phil Taylor and was carrying the box inside when trooper Alonzo spotted it. From there the conversation opened up and we were able to connect.

The ceremony started a little late as we waited for everyone to arrive. It was a very respectful and solemn place to be and I am reminded that I have been blessed to speak in many capitol rotundas around the country. There were many wonderful people to meet today, including SOS representatives, State Rep. Mark Strama and many others. We began with a prayer and the pledge and after a brief introduction, began my message around 12:30 and concluding with the presentation of personalized flags to honor Robert Harrigan, Christopher Zimmerman, Byron Norwood and Michael Cahill (my first presentation to one of the fallen from last years Ft Hood incident). Pictures are posted.

It was emotionally moving for me and each family to embrace and remember. I am so very grateful to be able to connect so intimately in this powerful way. I continue to be humbled in each city by so many wonderful people. The opportunity to speak for every fallen warrior overwhelming.So much to describe that I cant fully articulate. The mission continues.

Tomorrow: Meeting with Austin Mayor then on to San Antonio for Thursday presentation at the Alamo.

Blessings, George

Day 119 – Fort Hood, TX

October 4, 2010

Today was another wonderful day on the journey through Texas. I headed to Ft Hood, about a three hour drive, where Duane Atchison SOS had set up a meeting for me with base CSM Felt.  This was a an extremely positive meeting as I explained the meaning and purpose of the flag, our discussion continued for quite awhile as  we spoke about the many soldiers who have fallen at Ft Hood and the importance of keeping in touch with their families. Ft Hood has had a number of tragic incidents including the deadly shooting of 13 last November 5th. CSM was very supportive of the mission and had even started to design a flag for the fallen a few years ago. I will be posting photos of my visit.

From that meeting I was extremely honored to be taken over to SOS headquarters where I was privileged to meet and share with three Gold Star Moms and two Widows. What a wonderful time of sharing and learning about each others loved ones. I am forever grateful to have met these wonderful women who have given so much for this country. To be able to add them to my growing family and to be honored to represent their loved ones. This is what makes the mission so completely bearable, the confirmation that what I do has meaning to so many. SOS since its recent inception at Ft Hood has been a tremendous blessing to the many Gold Star families in the state.

Visited the beautiful memorial on base to the 1st Cav div, where NC Director Kathy Moore’s son is inscribed. Truly both humbling and sobering.

Tomorrow: Austin State Capitol Rotunda, 12 noon

Blessings, George

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-10-03

  • Today we give tribute to moms who have given their most precious loved ones for our freedom. Gold Star Mothers day. We will never forget. #
  • In Oklahoma City tonight preparing for a flag presentation in Norman, 11am. OK was the second state this year to adopt Honor and Remember. #
  • The OK ceremony was amazing. Thank you to all of the GSF who attended. It was my honor to spend time together. I am off to Dallas! #
  • Staying in Dallas for the weekend. Looking for the opportunity to share the vision at a nearby church this Sunday. Let me know. #
  • Just concluded a personal meeting with Mr Ross Perot. He loved the flag and we have his full endorsement. Meeting w governor at 4. March on. #

Day 117 – The Colony, TX

October 2, 2010

Today I picked up the RV and headed to The Colony for a scheduled ceremony. I was to present flags in honor of Spc JD Hunt and Cpl Peter Courcy.  The event was held at the American Legion hall and a small group of veterans and patriots were in attendance. The Hunts were not able to make it but Peter’s entire family were present. His wife, son Anthony, parents and grandparents.  It was a very intimate and emotional time to share the vision and add yet another family to mine. There was great support here today and I was extremely grateful for the opportunity. Pictures are posted.

Tomorrow: Day of rest.

Blessings, George

Day 116 – Plano, TX

October 1, 2010

Today would prove to be an amazing day in Texas. It started with driving the RV for routine maintenance. It was time for a fluid level change and a road check. $700 later I was good to go.

I had a scheduled meeting, thanks to Jack Barnes and connections, with Mr Ross Perot at 10am. His office is in the Dell building and when I arrived at his office he personally greeted me at his door. I found him to be a very genuine and warm individual. He listened intently to my vision and when I concluded was sincerely impressed. he said he loved the flag and the concept and wanted to be kept informed as to my progress. There was no commitments made however his appreciation of my efforts was evident. We spoke for over an hour as to the mission and the status of the country. It was a humbling and sincere honor to meet this powerful man of our nation’s history.  After our meeting he instructed one of his employees to give me a full tour of his memorabilia portions of the building. Truly an interesting and overwhelming experience to  be included in this honor.  I pray there will be more opportunity for connecting in the future.

later today I also met with the Governor of Texas Rick Perry. This was a rare opportunity to meet this very busy legislator. Thanks again to Alan Burks and Corbet Howard for making this arrangement. The governor was very gracious in the time spent discussing my trip across America and his involvement in working with wounded veterans. I received his enthusiastic support of my mission and am grateful for his leadership.  I believe Texas with follow thru with adoption in the spring.

In the early evening I was invited to an Oklahoma – Texas legislators meet and greet. This was a a social event that was predicated on the OK/TX football game tomorrow and was simply a fun hand shake party. I was the guest of Sen Bill Brown from Ok and his family. The evening ended early and I was grateful to head back to base for a good nights sleep.

Tomorrow: Ceremony at The Colony, TX

Blessings, George

Day 115 – Allen, TX

September 30, 2010

Alan arranged for me today to  meet with Representative Jodie Labenberg in Allen TX.  The meeting took place at Mimi’s restaurant and included supporters Top and Susanne…. It was a short but very successful visit. Jodie was extremely interested in the campaign and pledged her support in creating Texas legislation adopting Honor and Remember. While I was explaining the mission the waitress looked on.  When we concluded she told us the story of the flag made her knees buckle and she would not take any money for our meal. It was a powerful moment of confirmation that the message resonates with everyone who hears.

I left the meeting and headed to Rowlett, TX where I have a family relative. I will be staging from this area until Monday.

Tomorrow: Meeting with Mr Perot and the TX governor.

Blessings, George

Day 114 – Celina, TX

September 29, 2010

Resting here for the day and spending time with Alan. He took me to meet a local friend and former mayor and we had a great strategy discussion over breakfast. Following we visited Phil Taylor, an amazing artist who has dedicated his life to painting portraits of fallen heroes and respectfully presenting them to the Gold Star families.  What a truly inspiring facility as he works diligently on completing each work meticulously. I applaud his effort in making a difference in this very personal way.

We visited a local church and shared with the pastor for a few minutes then went on to visit Peter’s grave in Melissa TX. A spectacular tribute to Pete was a full size bronze statue at his gravesite. I have never see such a tribute before and was absolutely stunned. See posted pictures.

Later on we had an intimate dinner with Alan and his family including Pete’s two sisters. It was great to sit down with the family and be able to share our thoughts and grow a little closer as family. Great evening.

Tomorrow: Legislative appt in Allen TX

Blessings, George

Day 113 – Oklahoma City, OK – Celina, TX

September 28, 2010

Today was an absolute joy. I have made a new friend in Senator Brown,  a man who has a huge heart for the people of Oklahoma. Sen Brown arranged for a full day beginning with a ceremony at the Norman Veterans Center in Norman, OK.  Today I was able to share the vision with several state officials, many patriots and especially Gold Star families. The program was respectfully organized and the words from each participant fully supportive. I want to especially thank Kay Guynes from Rolling Thunder who very surgically explained the need for Honor and Remember and its relationship to other symbols. Truly inspiring words I my try and post some excerpts in the future. Also Dept of Veteran Affairs Secretary Norman Lamb for his stunning comment that this was one of the most meaningful presentations he has ever seen in his lifetime. Truly humbling.

During the ceremony we presented Honor and Remember Flags to each of the seven families in attendance. The Graham, Galvan, Jirtle, Looney, Stroud, Petty, Wright families. These were sponsored by the senator himself and each was a moving example of the importance of what we are doing. At the conclusion of the presentations I had a special surprise that I may have eluded to. Sen Brown’s father Seaman Second Class Elbert Brown, was killed in WWII, before he ever knew him. He talks about his dad alot and today during the ceremony he told his fathers story with great emotion. I had made a special personalized flag in tribute to his dad and at our conclusion presented it to him. This was totally unexpected and much appreciated. The emotional drain in this hour was tremendous. Please view the posted pictures. We later gathered for lunch and added to the day’s emotion sharing about our kids and breaking bread. I cant express enough how meaningful this time has been.

After lunch the Senator and I, running late, headed back to the capitol where we had a scheduled meeting with Governor Henry. This was a very special privilege and the governor was extremely gracious. He spent a great deal of time with me thanking me for the campaign and giving me his full support. He eagerly signed the Honor and Remember pledge and gave me a special gold coin commemorating the state of OK. The state is indeed interested in the flag and Sen Brown will be writing legislation to be sure each family is specifically remembered. A great great day.

After a few moments of thanks, I headed on my way toward Texas. My propane tank showed empty and I hadn’t filled it since Idaho so since it runs the refrigerator I had to find a supplier soon. There was a source near the capitol so with that taken care of I headed south the four hour drive toward Dallas.

I had been given a contact by my home team for Gene futh, a supporter and PGR member following my journey, and we connected for a nice evening dinner not too far outside Dallas. From there I rolled up to the home of Gold Star dad Alan Burks, who lost his son Pete in November 2007. I will be staying with Alan a couple of days to stage for the next step.

Tomorrow: A few meet and greets with Alan. Admin cleanup.

Blessings, George

Day 112 – Oklahoma City, OK

September 27, 2010

Today was a travel day to Oklahoma City. Early morning wake up, oatmeal with Nanny and great conversation. She is a movie buff like myself and has quite the DVD collection.   Then Brad Henderson took me over to the Canadian newspaper office for an interview and off I went. It was about a 3 1/2 hour to Oklahoma which was uneventful except nearly running out of gas and making a hairpin turn at 65mph. After the adrenaline subsided the rest was easy. I noticed my propane tank was empty so I will plan to have that refilled along with an overall tuneup/oil change etc later this week in Dallas.

Arriving in OK City I finally met Sen Bill Brown. He is the senator who was instrumental in OK becoming the second state to adopt the Honor and Remember Flag this year. It was great to give him a hearty hug and thank him for the support. The senator took me on a capitol tour, beautiful building and we finalized plans for a ceremony he has arranged for tomorrow afternoon. We will be presenting to several Gold Star families at a special arranged event in Norman tomorrow, and I have one secret presentation up my sleeve.

This evening Sen Brown took me to a fund raising event and I was able to meet US Congressman Tom Cole. Con Cole gave me his full support and will be endorsing Bill HR 1034 this week back in Washington. Please if you haven’t already, call or write your representative and US senator asking them to add their support to the Honor and Remember Flag Bill HR1034.

Tomorrow: Special presentation and meeting with the Governor.

Blessings, George

PS: remember the concluding ceremony in Arlington Nov 11th at 2pm. We do have rooms booked if you need them. Let me know.

Day 111 – Canadian, TX

September 26, 2010

Today was an absolutely perfect day from start to finish. First the weather was gorgeous, cool crisp clean air and a cloudless sky. I was invited to speak this morning at First Christian Church in Canadian. I thank pastor Cook for allowing me time in his pulpit today on Gold Star Mother’s day. I briefly shared the message of Honor and Remember and was privileged to make a personalized flag presentation to Vietnam widow Cindy Bowman.

Cindy’s husband Charles had been in special forces in Vietnam and was declared missing shortly after a sensitive mission. For 42 years she had no idea what had happened to him, no closure of any kind. Last month they found his remains and she was informed he was coming home. last week her local paper ran a multipage story on Msgt Newton and today it was my honor to present her with a personalized flag in his name.  It was a truly emotional moment to honor her in this specific way. Soon she will travel to Arlington where they will finally lay him to rest on American soil. It will be again my honor to attend.

The day continued with a picnic at the Henderson’s ranch. I wonderful oasis of a spot that was loved by their son and now turned into an active ropes course. we had a great time in fellowship and wall climbing, zip lining and especially skeet shooting. They sure know how to have fun and this day was a wonderful time with their good friends and family. Thanks so much Terry and Brad for the warm and loving welcome to Canadian. Your hospitality was amazing.

Tomorrow: Headed to Oklahoma City for a few days.

Blessings, George