Founder’s Message – Gold Star Presentations
I am tremendously grateful for the people who write, encouraging and supporting the Honor and Remember Flag campaign. Every day I get messages expressing gratitude and respect for the effort we are making to awaken America to the need for a national symbol of remembrance for the men and women who have given their lives in military service.
This month Honor and Remember will celebrate our first anniversary. It was Memorial Day 2008 when the Honor and Remember Flag was officially unveiled at a special ceremony at the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia. Since that day, we have experienced an amazing outpouring of encouragement and validation from many national organizations and individuals. We have a bill before the U.S. Congress and we have received significant media attention. And most importantly, we have presented personalized Honor and Remember Flags to dozens of families recognizing specifically the loss of their loved one. But there is so much more to do.
Here at the one-year mark the Honor and Remember Flag is still in its cocoon, waiting to burst onto the national scene. I have to keep reminding myself that there are many stories clamoring for the public’s attention: A new administration in Washington, the dire condition of our economy, the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and other international hotspots. Sometimes I feel that American is so buried in bad news that it forgets to think about the good things that make us a great nation, one of which is the dedication of our military men and women around the world, who stand on the front lines, fighting for our freedom and security.
I know I’m not alone in thinking that the men and women who gave their all for America deserve special recognition by all Americans. Yet it seems that idea gets pushed aside by the weight of current events. We must not let that happen. Every day we need to be appreciative of their sacrifice. That’s why a monument or a holiday isn’t enough. We need an ever-present tribute that can be seen nationally, recognized and accessible to everyone, visibly and silently carrying the message of remembrance to everyone. The Honor and Remember Flag is meant to be a national thank you card from a grateful nation.
I have consistently stated that there are two important questions burning in the hearts of families of the fallen: Was their sacrifice in vain? Will my child be forgotten? My answer is that as long as the American flag flies freely above our land, no individual loss will ever have been in vain. And as long as the Honor and Remember Flag is publicly displayed, no sacrifice will ever be forgotten.
This month I want to focus on the mission of personalized flags. It is our charitable goal to facilitate the gifting of specially made personalized Honor and Remember Flags, one to each family that has suffered the heart wrenching sacrifice of losing their child. We want to specifically honor each hero individually by name and not just those lost in one conflict or war, but every life lost and every living parent we can touch. This is not an easy mission, as we must emotionally connect every day with moms and dads with incredible stories of their sons and daughters. Remembrance is what we all yearn for and only good can come of pursuing it.
Here are a few amazing stories of families who were recently honored.
Staff member Tom Leisher at a special “Remember the Fallen” rally in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, presented to Mrs. Barb Bernard an Honor and Remember Flag in tribute to her son SFC Brent A. Adams, who was killed in Iraq December 1, 2005.
At a ceremony celebrating its 90th anniversary, American Legion McKinley Post 76 in Sebring, Ohio, held a special Honor and Remember Flag presentation for Carey Meissner, the mother of Marine Lance Corporal Danny McVickers, who was killed in Iraq on Oct. 6, 2005. To read the story CLICK HERE.
I was privileged to present flags to Mrs. Hershberger and Mrs. Bourgeois in honor of their sons at a wounded warrior 5k event in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Sgt. David Hershberger was serving in Vietnam when he lost his life January 10, 1968. US Navy Seal Matthew Bourgeois was serving in Afghanistan and was killed March 28, 2002. It was an extreme honor to present to these special mothers in the presence of more than 1000 participants.
At a local Vietnam Veterans meeting, Mrs. Claire Atherden, 89, received a personalized flag in honor of her son LCpl. Lester Atherden, who died March 4, 1966 in Vietnam. She had three Marine Corps sons who gave years of service for our country. Lester gave the final measure.
Gold Star father Carl Dozier was presented a personalized flag in honor of his son Jonathan K. Dozier, killed January 9th, 2008. The presentation was facilitated by the Chesapeake Mayors Commission on Military Affairs. This was a surprise presentation honoring Mr. Dozier for the enormity of his loss and for his son’s giving all he had for our ultimate freedom.
Spc. Aaron Genevie was honored with a special service in his memory and in public recognition for his mother Patty Genevie in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Aaron was killed April 16, 2007 in Iraq when the Humvee he was riding in hit an improvised explosive device. Read a newspaper account of this presentation. CLICK HERE
It is our desire and organizational goal that every family that lost a son or daughter in military service to our country should have a personalized flag. Regardless of the era, even as far back as Korea, we are working on that task. Each flag proudly represents a special life lost and complements the hundreds of thousands that will one day fly across this nation in grateful respect.
Honor and Remember has received hundreds of individual requests for personalized flags for families who have lost a loved one. However, we don’t currently have the resources to meet this need, since we do not charge for the personalized flags. Giving them in gratitude is part of our mission.
Our growing list can be daunting. That’s why we need individuals, organizations, churches and companies to partner and network with us. Identifying hurting families that should be honored with the gift of an Honor and Remember Flag and publicly recognized for the sacrifice they have made and reassured that their loved one is not forgotten. Anyone can easily sponsor a flag and arrange a presentation. Lets not let busyness or apathy get in the way of making a difference in the immediate lives of those who carry the burden of loss every day.
Please consider reaching out to a family in your community who has suffered such a life changing loss by sponsoring a flag in their honor. Contact us and we will help you with the process of organizing and conducting a respectful short ceremony. If you do not know of any deserving families in your area, let us know. We can help identify a family near you. There are heroes across this country that need to be individually remembered. Thank you for your continued support.
| Our Hero’s Story – RaNae Vaughn
|My son, Sgt. Jason W. Vaughn, was killed in action in Iraq on May 10, 2007. I am writing in response to your request for information about the young men and women who have died serving their country.
Jason was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 31, 1977. He died May 10, 2007, in Old Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Jay was on his second tour of duty. He was assigned to the Army’s 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Washington. He was 29 years old.
Jason’s greatest attribute may have been his kind heart. He was always considerate of the needs of his friends and family. He frequently offered advice, and would gladly give you his last dollar if he thought you needed it more than he did. Jay displayed maturity and insight far beyond his years. He loved to hang out with friends, read, watch TV and play video games. He was a handsome man on the outside and, more importantly, on the inside. Jason had a great appreciation for life.
We will always remember his smile, bear hugs, love of life, positive attitude and his way of making everyone around him feel special. Jason will live on in our hearts and minds forever. We miss him daily.
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 – Karen Gleason
| Several months back, a good friend of mine invited me to a local restaurant where he had an “Honor and Remember” table set up. He said he wanted to show me this “new” flag that would recognize our fallen heroes and asked me to sign a petition that would help do just that and be a part of history!
Well, being from a military family ~ my father, three brothers and husband all served in the Marine Corp and my niece, nephews and son-in-law are all currently serving ~ my curiosity was peeked. A new flag I thought? Really?
Don Belew explained the concept behind the Honor and Remember Flag, where every fallen soldier throughout every war and conflict in American history would be nationally recognized and given their due honor and respect for their ultimate sacrifice, their life. I thought, “Wow, why hasn’t this happened already?” All of us either have a family member, friend or co-worker in the military, and at any given time we can be affected by the loss of their fallen soldier. Once you recognize and grab hold of that reality, you have no choice in the matter but to say, “How can I help. What can I do?”
My heart goes out to the families that have experienced such a loss. All that I can do now to show my gratitude is to be a part of the process that helps to nationally recognize and honor and remember their lives and sacrifice. I have been privileged enough to see Gold Star mothers receive their child’s personalized flag. They clutch their flag and hold it tightly against their heart. It seems as if it brings a sense of healing to their hurting hearts.
God Bless our fallen hero’s and their families.
On May first, by unanimous decision the mayor and city council of Virginia Beach, Virginia, officially endorsed the Honor and Remember Flag, as an official symbol recognizing all lives lost in military service to our nation. The resolution also endorsed Congressional bill HR 1034, which seeks to nationally endorse the flag. Thank you to City Councilman Bill DeSteph for his leadership.
The state of Pennsylvania has a resolution on it legislative docket with 59 co-sponsors to recognize and endorse the Honor and Remember Flag. Additionally Virgina is drafting a Bill also to adopt. Other cities have also adopted resolutions, including Orrstown and Lancaster. Please continue to reach out to you local and state governments.
On April 28, George appeared on the Tony Macrini Show on WNIS radio in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. George and Tony talked about the origin of the Honor and Remember Flag and the progress of the campaign. Callers to the show included a number of Gold Star mothers who had received their personalized flags. Former congresswoman Thelma Drake, who introduced flag legislation in the 110th Congress, also called in to congratulate George on the progress of the campaign to get the flag nationally recognized.
As a military mom of three boys, I believe the government should recognize this flag for our fallen loved ones. I am sorry to hear about your son’s passing but know in your heart he believed in what he was doing. Belgrade, MT
This is a great idea to have a flag for the servicemen who were killed in action. There are flags for MIAs and POWs. Why not a flag for the ones who were killed in the line of duty? They are the ones who fought for our freedom and paid the ultimate sacrifice! Contact your representative and get this bill passed! Arden, NC
I wholeheartedly support this campaign. I love the design on this flag and all that it represents. My only son was killed on Fathers Day of 2007 in Afghanistan. I will fly this flag beneath our American flag that he so proudly served. Vinton, LA
I am an Iraqi Freedom veteran (2003-2004). I have always tried to thank fellow veterans of previous conflicts, and to thank any active duty service member that is serving today. I cannot thank enough those that gave their lives fighting for and preserving our freedoms that we cherish today. This flag symbolizes our gratitude for those fallen heroes. God Speed and God Bless! Florence, MA
I was watching the news and saw this flag. This is so AWESOME and I want EVERY government agency to adopt and fly this flag. What a wonderful way to continually acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice that our military man and women have made. Newport News, VA
I wanted to thank you for sending me this information regarding the Honor and Remember Flag. I am a Gulf War vet who is disabled. I hope this message reaches around the country. God Bless our veterans and troops. I will be passing this information out to everyone I know. Indianapolis, IN