September 25, 2010
Today was a work and travel day. I moved 3 hours north to the home of Terry and Brad Henderson, Gold Star parents to Miles Henderson, Killed in Iraq Nov 2006. Here in Canadian TX I will take a short respite and prepare for a Sunday flag presentation.
When I arrived we visited the church and then had a wonderful dinner at a popular local restaurant. After which we attended a Las Vegas style show called the Rat Pack is Back. A great way to laugh and unwind as I thoroughly enjoyed the relaxing evening. Thank you to the Hendersons for welcoming me in such a special way.
Tomorrow: First Christian Church, service at 10:30 am
September 24, 2010
Last night I rolled into Amarillo and met with my friend and contact for this city, Jack Barnes. Jack runs and organization named America Supports you Texas. Erin Julian from Michigan had been arranging with Jack for my visit here and quite a day was planned. Jack and I started with breakfast and the headed to an impromptu meeting with one of the district legislators. This was our first committment from the state of Texas for Honor and Remember legislation!
At 1 we met up with the VFW riders, Hardcore Motorcycle assoc and the PGR for an escort. We traveled in an amazing line of police and motorcycles, through the city to the Veterans memorial where many gathered for a special opportunity to speak. The mayor of Amarillo participated in the event and welcomed me to the city. It was an emotional opportunity to share at such a beautiful memorial and to the proud patriots who participated. Jack also had his team together with his veterans float. A tribute to all of our veterans and the fallen.
This evening we drove over to the VFW post 1475. The post members had prepared a steak dinner for the community and Gold Star families. It was a very well attended dinner and I was able to share in much detail the story of my mission. As part of the evening I presented a personalized flag to Sandy Lanier who lost her son Elias in May of this year. The emotions were flowing as together we honored her family and thanked them for his sacrifice to us all. It was a wonderful and meaningful event attended by many in the community including legislative candidates and AL and VFW commanders.
Jack does an amazing job of remembering vets with the Honor flights and the Armed Forces day Gold Star family event. Thanks for making my initial stop in Texas such a memorable one.
Tomorrow: Headed to Canadian TX for the weekend.
September 23, 2010
Woke up this morning in a Wal mart parking lot. Ha, that sounds like I hadn’t planned it, but it was where I parked the night before. Today is Veterans appreciation at the New Mexico State Fair. Gold Star mother Pat Merville was my point of contact in NM and has worked diligently at preparing for my trip. She had prepared for me to participate in the parade and to be a keynote speaker at the Veterans day ceremony. It was a very special time as I was able to meet many Gold Star families and march with them as we held the Honor and Remember Flag for the crowd. Marching along with the Blue Star mothers and many other Veteran service organizations.
General Don Arnold was master of ceremonies for the even and graciously allowed me time to share the message at the podium. After a few minutes I unfurled the flag and received a salute and standing ovation from the veteran crowd. The highlight and most important moment came when I able to make two special flag presentations. One to Mrs Merville in honor of her son Christopher and the second to the Lopez family in honor of their son Robert. There is a special story to Robert, he had been MIA for 37 years, his family having no idea what had happened in Vietnam. And recently in 2005 his remains were found and he was finally able to be laid to rest by his parents in Arlington. When Mrs Lopez received her flag today she looked at me and said, “this is the final piece of closure that I need”. I can not express the emotion of being able to touch individual lives in such a powerful way. These tributes will continue as we honor generations of precious families.
At the conclusion of the event all of the Gold Star families headed to lunch where we were able to spend some great time sharing about our kids and our healing. Leaving the Fair and heading to Amarillo, a four hour drive to prepare for tomorrows activities.
Tomorrow: Amarillo and events scheduled
September 22, 2010
Continuing my leisurely journey to New Mexico State fair for ceremony and flag presentations.
Tomorrow: State Fair ceremony 10:30
September 21, 2010
Stayed the night at the home of Goldie and Larry Murphy. Gold Star mother of Fallen hero Dan McCants. Goldie has been working on legislator support both nationally and in the state of Arizona and was working on possible appointments for me today. Since session is in recess right now we were not able to get anything solid but we had a great morning strategizing. Yesterday at the ceremony I had a couple of very old friends from Virginia, come by who happened to live in Phoenix. So today was open for me to spend catch up time after many years. Had a great time reminiscing, enjoying the food and fellowship. Oh and these guys are media experts so it was also a great time of brainstorming ideas for driving more awareness nationally. May take an extra day of slow driving to enjoy the scenery, need to be in New Mexico Wednesday night.
Tomorrow: Head toward Albuquerque
September 20, 2010
Driving 2 hours to Phoenix. Today’s event at Papago National Guard Armory, 130pm Ceremony. Goldie had arranged a wonderful ceremony at the Papago National Guard Armory. Many Gold Star families were in attendance as well as participation from veterans organizations and the military. With the assistance of General Brown several flag presentations were made after my presentation. Six families received flags today in an emotional event. I was so honored to meet these and so many other families as we were able to share tears and stories of our loved ones.
Two other special items about today, Governor Brewer proclaimed it Honor and Remember day in Arizona and I was presented with three special plaques in honor of Tony for myself, his wife and his children.
Many thanks to Goldie for pulling this all together and making it so very memorable for us all. We will continue to reach every family in Arizona with personalized flags. Help us if you can.
Tomorrow: Open Day
September 19, 2010
Today would be a great day of expectations. We started with a wonderful Paulette breakfast and headed to church with Jasmine, “Fountain of Life” Assembly of God. The pastor was gracious to allow me a portion of the pulpit to share my message. As you know I look for opportunity every Sunday to share in a church setting, sometimes like today that is able to be worked out.
After church and a hearty Cracker Barrel lunch with Jasmine and Glenn we rendezvoused with the local police and several motor cycle groups to be escorted to the Prescott Valley civic center. Paulette and Jasmine had been planning today’s event for quite some time. A special ceremony with many visitors and guests along with city officials. The Police and Fire Dept were represented as well as both local mayors from Prescott Valley and Prescott. All participated in the ceremony as I was able to share the Honor and Remember vision on a beautiful sunny 90 degree day. One of the highlights today for me was meeting Chuck a Vietnam veteran who gave me his Vietnam pathfinder pin and I was truly humbled having received it. Thanks to Paulette, Jasmine and Laura for helping continue the mission and creating a very memorable day.
Tomorrow: Two hour drive to Phoenix for 130pm ceremony at the Papgo National Guard Armory.
September 18, 2010
Headed out early for Prescott Valley from Lake Havasu City. I have to tell you this has been the hottest state so far as temperatures reached 108. My temperature gauge even rebelled and started creeping east. It was a 3 1/2 hour drive through barren desert but I made it safely without any incident. I am staying at the home of Paulette and Auggie Martone Gold Star parents who lost their son Justin march 7, 2006.
Arriving early afternoon I settled in and we had a restful dinner with some other guests Curtis and CJ Boggs and Jasmine and Glenn Crowl. Jasmine lost her son Cornell, Jan 28, 2007. Curtis came over with a surprise, a painted motorcycle with the Honor and Remember Flag painted on both sides of the tank. A spectacular tribute.
Tomorrow: Prescott Valley civic center event 2pm.
- This is from last nights amazing dinner. Thank you all for the over whelming support! http://twitpic.com/2nscb6 #
- Hanging with my son Kenny in LA. Headed to San Diego this afternoon. http://twitpic.com/2ogngv #
- Spoke at American Legion post 179 in Escandido last night. Going to take a day to hang with my cousin and his 18 wheeler before Havasu. #
- Down day, truckin with my cousin. http://twitpic.com/2oql0z #
- 5 hour drive to Lake Havasu, AZ. Patriot Day parade tomorrow! #
- Flag flying and decal on Lake Havasu fire truck! Patriot Days all this week. http://twitpic.com/2p9t64 #
- Now heading East for the first time in three months. Arizona and New Mexico this week. Looking toward Arlington in November! #
September 17, 2010
Made it to the event at Lake Havasu last night and met up with the organizer. The main feature of Patriot Days is the traveling tribute to the fallen and especially the Vietnam Wall. I had met this group last year in Ogden Utah. Today was opening ceremonies for the week long event with a concert following. The only problem was that it was 106 degress and the foot traffic was light. Spent alot of the day cooling off in the RV. I was able to meet a few local folks and get some petition signatures and enjoy the ceremony. Also there was a local firetruck flying the flag and with a symbolism decal, I had seen pictures of the truck and I was blessed to see it in person. I tweeted a picture earlier today.
Tomorrow: Drive to Prescott for weekend events.
September 16, 2010
Early morning interview, 430am early. Stayed up and followed my cousins truck 2 hours to Barstow then another three hours through desolate land to Lake Havasu, Arizona. Right thru the Mohave desert. I was invited to participate in the Havasu Patriot Days. There is a Vietnam traveling wall here for 10 days and a festival wrapped around its visit. I will be able to speak tomorrow at the event and pass out literature, get petitions signed etc.
Tomorrow: Start of Lake Havasu Patriot Days
September 15, 2010
This is my 100th day on the road, with approx 60 more ahead. Lately I have been extremely tired and wish sometimes that I was back in Virgina. I am overwhelmed by the extent of energy it takes to get to new places and meet new people. Different environments, different expectations, sharing my emotional message for the first time, each time. Sometimes to only 5 people sometimes to several hundred. Although you never know what speaking to one person will do, I often get discouraged when only a few show up. I guess I fell as if the message is so important, the whole country needs to hear. I am turning east now and will begin to gain timezones. Perhaps the anticipation of the end is n my mind, yet so many great moments yet to come.
I have found out that I do not have to be in Havasu until Friday so I will hang out with my cousin Tony for the day. He is a long haul trucker and was driving a load so I will tag along. Tony has quite a resume, he was 13 years in the marines, 10 years as an LA MC cop, a stuntman, rodeo rider and now a trucker. He definitely has some interesting stories to tell. he has a beautiful family with two young precious girls.
Today’s haul did not go as easy as it should have. Without relaying all of the details a simple pick up of two Humvees which should have been an hour took closer to 5. It has been a very long day. But in the end a great visit and dinner with the family. I will post photos later.
Tomorrow: Morning interview with WNIS and 5 hour drive to Lake Havasu, AZ
Click Here to listen to Dennis Miller talk about his experiences with Honor and Remember at the Lompoc Elk’s Lodge September 11th, 2010.
September 14, 2010
Today I made the drive to Escondido where Terrie had arranged a speaking opportunity at the American Legion Post 149 for 5pm. Everything did not quite go according to plan however in the end I was able to speak to about 40 Legion and DAV members. They will be flying the flag there as well as a number of places around town. On my way through I passed Murietta where my first cousin and his family live. I stopped by for lunch since they were close by but decided after my speaking tonight I would spend the night with them.
Also today I found out my oldest daughter is having a baby girl and its my youngest daughters birthday!
Tomorrow: Down day
September 13, 2010
Today was a work/rest day, staying with my son, and catching up. He took a half day and we hung out went to lunch, a movie, walked the area and then spent the evening chatting. It was great to have the time with him as we did not get to talk much at the September 11 dinner.
Tomorrow: Off to San Diego area.
September 12, 2010
Today was planned to be a very busy day. I will be back on that breakneck pace for the entire day. It started out at breakfast with Debbie and her friends at the American Legion in Lompoc. It was one more opportunity to share the vision and eat among veterans. This was an extra special morning because I had a surprise noone knew about. Debbie has been on my list for a flag for quite sometime and she insisted that I not present her one this visit. We wanted to focus on the Vietnam families last night. However this morning I did present her with a flag in honor of Derek. Surprises are what I like best and there are a few more planned on the trip. It was my honor to give her this tribute for many reasons but especially because it touches my heart to continue the mission.
I met many wonderful people in this city many I will not remember their names, But thank you all for the wonderful experience Sherry, Randy, Joe, Petros, Jo, John, Tom and many others especially little Derek my basketball buddy , Debbie’s grandson who last night led the pledge of allegiance so proudly. He is the son of her younger son John.
Moving on I had a three hour drive to Santa Monica, where Terrie Hobson my CA project manager had set up a speaking opportunity on the beach there. Every Sunday thousands of crosses are planted in the sand in memory of all lives lost in the war on terror. Today being escorted by a marine color guard I was able to share my vision with several hundred on the beach. I also met Vietnam veteran Dusty Diamond a hardened vet with years of experiences behind him. An honor to meet such a dedicated individual so consumed with helping other vets less fortunate than himself.
After Santa Monica I visited my son Kenny who lives just a few miles from here and then later I drove the 80 miles to Riverside where I met at American Legion Post 79 to speak. This is the post that initiated, thru long time supporter Ray Trosper, the resolution which was accepted by the AL Dept of California, adopting Honor and Remember as their symbol of remembrance. Many attended this evening including several Gold Star families, Legion members and active duty National Guard. It was an intimate gathering and another wonderful opportunity to share.
I drove the 80 miles back to LA to stay with Kenny and for a welcome visit with my son. We happen to be a Redskin family and this is opening day against the Cowboys. However my trip to Riverside will not allow me to watch and hopefully Ill get the highlights tomorrow. One of my dreams is to have professional sports teams wearing Honor and Remember patches for one game. Maybe next year.
Tomorrow: Nothing I hope
September 11, 2010
I cant properly relay all of the hard work that Debbie and her team have extended to make today so incredibly special. They have been preparing for tonight’s dinner for months. The arrangements for the dinner, the auction items, the decorations, the ticket sales and much more. I have not a clue as to all of the details but I know the amazing effort and attention to detail that was expended. Every member of her Lompoc team pitched in and had the evening completely organized. I cannot thank them all enough for the amazing effort and absolute success. This was our first official dinner and I hope will be a model for many more to come. Debbie you are an incredible lady and I thank you and Todd for making Lompoc, (pronounced Lom-Poke), a truly memorable stop in my journey. And honestly I don’t think I stopped laughing most of the time and please don’t let me hear the party pooper song one more time.
The Elks lodge was a great place to hold the dinner and the room was packed. Mostly because of Dennis Miller and Bo Derek, but I think everyone received more of a blessing than they anticipated. After Dennis entertained us for a bit there was a great dinner and then I was able to share with the audience the mission of Honor and Remember. Following my message we made two very special personalized flag presentations to two Gold Star mothers who lost their sons in Vietnam. Ms Derek and Mr Miller read the certificates as we publicly gave tribute to Mrs Escobar and Mrs Walker after over 40 years.
The evening was perfect, except for my interrupting Mr Miller during his performance. Afterwards I spent the next hour visiting with each Gold Star family and the many supporters who now more intimately understand the importance of the mission. Thanks again to Tom Ballard for hanging with me and being an invaluable help this week at every stop. More thoughts to come.
Tomorrow: Drive to Santa Monica and Riverside
- Beautiful ceremony this morning with Gold Star families at Kawaiahao church. http://twitpic.com/2lozst #
- Please pray there is about a 5% chance I could meet with the governor of CA today. Thank you. http://twitpic.com/2mibzq #
- Didn't meet the governor but had a wonderful ceremony with gold star families. Headed to lompoc #
- Safely in Lompoc after 9 hours. Meeting w commander, Vandenberg AFB this morning. Preparing for big event tomorrow night. #
- Yesterday the city of Lompoc, CA voted to adopt and fly the Honor and Remember Flag on 10 city buildings. They will all be flying on 9/11. #
September 10, 2010
Tom and I are staying at the home of Deb and Todd Bastian. They are incredible hosts and it is an honor to be invited into their home. Deb is a proud gold star mother who lost her son Derek on Memorial day 2005. Debbie and I connected earlier this year in DC through the celebration for Iraqi Liberation Day and I asked her if she would help to organize an event in California on 9/11. She has taken on this task with full measure and has planned the most amazing evening. More about that tomorrow.
Today Tom arranged for a visit with top officials at Vandenburg Air Force Base. While there we were taken on a personal tour few ever witness. We were able to see a rocket on the launch pad ready for launch. This wasn’t any small bottle rocket but a full size, three stage, massive space shuttle type rocket. We were privileged to be taken around the facility and be introduced to the technological wonder.
Also earlier in the week thanks to the concerted effort of Debbie, the city of Lompoc, CA adopted the Honor and Remember Flag and agreed to fly it in all 10 of its city buildings. Today they were flying the flag everywhere in the city. A truly humbling sight as this city has decided to make a public statement in honor of its fallen. It is my hope that along with the federal and state governments, each city will also adopt and fly this symbol.
This evening after a short interview on local news KEYT, Deb and Todd put together a great dinner gathering with friends and family. It was wonderful to get to know these terrific people, sharing the evening with food and fellowship. This is the second time I was introduced to Tri Tips, Delicious.
Tomorrow: Big Honor and Remember event with Dennis Miller and Bo Derek. Flag presentations to Vietnam Families.