Founder’s Message – A Moment Worth Sharing
I would like to begin today with an appeal for help. We are less than 40 days from leaving on the trip Across America and still have not met all of our expectations. If you are able to meet us or help arrange for our visit in any way please write to me at email@example.com. Thanks to all who are working in their state to make this historic journey successful. We still need specific assistance in the following states: Maine, Vermont, Oregon, North Dakota, West Virginia, Illinois, Tennessee, Montana and Rhode Island.
This past month I shared an experience many Americans most assuredly missed. I had the opportunity to participate in National Observance of Iraqi Liberation Day (NOILD), which was marked by a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery that included officials and military generals from Iraq. Although this hallowed occasion was very meaningful to me, what impacted me the most as a Gold Star father whose son was killed in Iraq was what was said.
I was able to hear words that were not broadcast that day on the evening news … words that the American public will never hear … words of thankfulness. You see, we are making a difference in Iraq and the appreciation expressed by the Iraqi dignitaries that day was heartfelt. One by one the Iraqi officials stood at the podium, looked into the crowd and spoke words I didn’t realize I needed to hear: “Thank you.”
The lives of our American sons and daughters, husbands and wives sacrificed to achieve Iraq’s liberation have made a difference for that nation that is still hard to fully comprehend. In addition to freeing Iraq from the grip of a ruthless dictator, paving the way for self-governance and providing guidance for Iraq’s own security forces, our armed forces have played a major role in building hospitals, schools and other facilities.
Here is a personal note sent to us after this solemn April event: ”GEN Abadi, Vice Chief of Staff, Iraqi Joint Forces, wants me to convey his personal felicitations to you, the parents, and to convey the sentiment, as he did at Arlington National Cemetery, that CPL Lutz rests assured to be on our minds often and in our prayers always. The general said, ‘The images of our reunion, in the midst of our martyrs, Iraqi and American, on America’s hallowed ground, Arlington National Cemetery, will stay with me forever. They are America’s best, they are your sons and daughters, and while we have returned their remains to American soil, their souls shall live on in the hearts of Iraqis, in Eternity. For now, by what they have done for Iraqi Freedom, they have become our sons and daughters as well.'”
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM. THANK YOU. Powerful words. I firmly believe that our military involvement in Iraq was not in vain. Our blood and treasure were not wasted. Our loved ones went over there to make a difference. They were on a mission they believed in and even though we may not be able to say right now mission accomplished 100 percent, they all fought and many died for the noblest of causes: freedom.
As we move forward with building national awareness for the Honor and Remember Flag, let’s not forget that Americans are not the only people who should be thankful for generations of the USA’s military fallen heroes. Just as they gave their lives to preserve our freedoms, they also died so that people in many foreign lands could live free from tyranny. And for that, they deserve the thanks of free people everywhere.
Sign the Petition ~ Share the Vision ~ Fly the Flag
Our Hero’s Story – Byron Bird, Jr
(Selected verses from two poems, “A Father’s Memory of His Son” and “High in the Mountains”)
Twenty-nine years ago, I was wild as anyone could be;
I met a wonderful woman and asked her to marry me.
All our friends and family were at the wedding, they wished their very best;
A new and special love I found; this woman’s patience I would sometimes test.
Nine months after the vows, there came into this world a bundle of joy.
It was a glorious day, she had given birth to a beautiful brown-eyed boy.
He was full of spirit and difficult at times; He was a lot of fun.
One of my greatest treasures: I loved him dearly, for he was my first son.
I watched him grow and he developed into a young man so wild and free.
He was like no other, one of God’s greatest gifts, we called him Jeremy.
Growing tall and lean with a desire to be with the best;
The way he played football and wrestled, he stood out among the rest.
Graduation day came early for him in the year of ninety-one,
On the honor roll four years for being the best that he was among.
Most valuable football player and wrestler, he wouldn’t settle for anything less.
After graduation, he gave up his Blazer and friends, then joined the Army to be with the best.
I asked him not to go; he said with firmness in his voice that he must do this for himself.
He was always G.I. Joe as a kid; his personal life would be put on the shelf.
Training was hard with many difficulties; running and marching, never time to sit.
He would become an Airborne Ranger, by their creed they were never allowed to quit.
I came home on the fateful day after work; I was tired and all worn out.
In drove the chief of police, a priest and a sergeant; I wondered what this was about.
His mother was the first to greet them, then turned to me with tears in her eyes;
For Jeremy had made the ultimate sacrifice and they told us how he died.
It was in a helicopter crash over the Great Salt Lake; it went down in a fiery flame.
He had volunteered for this mission, letting no one else take it, for he wouldn’t be ashamed.
Sergeants, officers, enlisted men; the best of the best were together that fateful day;
All the rest of his Ranger buddies were on shore, but all they could do was pray.
There was such beauty at the cemetery, a blanket of white snow; the Rangers were standing so proud.
With prayers and farewells, a twenty-one-gun salute, then taps that touched the hearts in the crowd.
His mother laid a yellow rose on the casket, as an eerie gust of wind came down;
As the rose blew off, a Ranger out of nowhere caught it before it touched the ground.
I believe that gust of wind was taking his soul back to heaven, where he came from
Jeremy was only here for a short while; God’s gift to me, my beloved son.
Two weeks after he had gone, I had a vision. It was Jeremy and he said to me,
“Get on with your life, I am at peace; you’ve grieved enough, just let it be.”
As the days go by and time passes, his spirit keeps me moving on.
I will think of him often and the memory of where he is in the great beyond.
Someday this old cowboy will ride that horse alone to that mountaintop up high.
It will be a lonely ride, but it will be worth it to see my son, that Ranger in the sky! …………His Dad
NOTE: Honor and Remember is looking for positive stories about the young men and women who have died serving our country. We would like to share them in this newsletter and on a special page on our web site. The stories should be about 300-400 words in length and contain insights that capture the individual’s personality and celebrate their life and honor their experiences in service, etc. We want to present a snapshot of our young heroes … who they were and how those who loved them remember. Photos are welcome. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Why I’m on Board – Laura Olisewski
It was one of those picture perfect days. You know the kind: sunny, an occasional white cloud in a deep, blue sky. It was about 70 degrees and there was a gentle, warm breeze – just perfect. I was in our backyard, picking blueberries from the more than 30 bushes we had when the chimes at the church at the end of our street started to play “America the Beautiful.” I laughed because it was just too perfect – almost unreal.
Then I started to think about how truly blessed I am that I have the freedom to have all of these wonderful things in my life. The one thought that stuck in my mind was “freedom.” I thought about all the soldiers, sailors and veterans that have fought for my freedom throughout the years, even years before I was born. It reminded me that I owe so much to them for what they have given me.
That is why I am such a strong supporter of the Honor and Remember campaign. The very least that I can do is to show the families of the fallen that I respectfully honor and remember what their hero gave for me. The Honor and Remember Flag helps me to do that, without needing to say a word, because it isn’t always easy to find the words that truly express the feelings associated with such a tough situation.
My husband and I are honored to be VIP escorts at Rolling Thunder in Washington, D.C. We have Gold Star family members on the back seats of our motorcycles as we ride them through the streets of Washington, D.C. during the event. While doing this not long ago, we were honored to meet the Morel family. They lost their Marine son, Capt. Brent Morel, (a Navy Cross recipient for extraordinary heroism), on April 7, 2004 in Iraq. Coincidentally, my husband was serving in Iraq at the same time. We have now become close with the Morels.
When Adam and I got married this past August, we knew that it was because of the work that American soldiers and sailors like Capt. Morel that we were able to have the freedom to celebrate our wedding as we did. So we included a story about Capt. Morel and the Morel family in our wedding program. We also went on to explain about our Honor and Remember Flag that we had flying at the outdoor wedding and why we were flying it. Our friend Neil Cotter, who is also friends with the Morels, surprised us by showing up with Capt. Brent Morel’s personalized Honor and Remember Flag, which had been shipped overnight by Molly Morel. So we were able to honor him in name at our wedding. It was truly a special day, but it was made all the more significant and memorable because we were able to show our guests how much we appreciate, recognize, honor and remember our fallen by flying the flag.
A friend of mine, Christine, a Gold Star Mom, once said that her greatest fear is that people will forget her son, Cpl. Steven Koch. That really stuck with me. Those words strengthened my resolve to make sure that Gold Star families know that I recognize their sacrifice and remember their hero every day … and without a word.
Proud wife of Adam, an OIF 2004-2005 veteran!
News and Upcoming Events
With so much momentum in place and more progress ahead, we must focus on broadening awareness. That is why we will soon be taking the message to every state and launching “Honor and Remember Across America.” Click here for trip info.
The trip will focus on taking the Honor and Remember message to 50 states with the hope that each state legislature will join Virginia’s in officially adopting the flag. We will be giving presentations at various venues where we have been invited to speak, including houses of worship, veterans groups and community organizations. And most importantly, we will look forward to meeting many Gold Star families around the U.S. Our goals are to spread the word about the Honor and Remember Flag everywhere possible, to see the flag flying across America and to touch the lives of many families who have lost so much.
I want to thank Kate McLaughin and this organization for Honoring me with this flag. I lost my son Spc Mathew Taylor 09-26-07. I appreciate everything that you all are doing and to all our soldiers for protecting our USA. Thank you also to all the soldiers like my son that gave their lives so that we all can be free!!! God Bless us all!!! Cameron Park, CA
“THANK YOU” For way too long this nation’s fallen have been reserved a place in the back of the bus, forgotten. Such has it been for our older warriors. In recent years, some of this still continues, yet there are still good, strong, honorable citizens that have stepped forward to hold our banner high and declare to all that they have what it takes to stand against the darkness. Many have fallen and this flag now honors them in a way that has never been done before. For this I say “THANK YOU”. To all my brothers and sisters in uniform… Montrose, CO
I am with you. I am a retired navy man and will be proudly flying this right along side my POW/MIA flag from my front porch. Shingletown, CA
I think this is a great idea! My husband has been to Iraq and Afghanistan and believe this is a wonderful way to honor him and those who came back safely, but most importantly for those who will never come back. I think about them every day and hope that they know how grateful we all are!! Knoxville, IL
This is for my Son Cpl Tim Roos KIA July 27 06 and all of the others that lost there lives for are freedom . Thank you so much for honoring us. Cincinnati, OH
Our son, Cpl Michael J. Anaya was KIA 04/12/2009 on Easter Sunday morning. We are still struggling with our loss and yet are so proud of him! God Bless you for this effort – it is comforting to know that the Fallen Warriors are not forgotten. Crestview, FL
This is an awesome movement honoring those who are so easily forgotten or just counted as mere statistics of war. I serve in the Navy and have seen many friends go to Iraq and Afghanistan during this war. Do whatever it takes to get this flag in the air! God will honor this, I truly believe that! Newport News, VA