Founder’s Message – More than Numbers
As I begin September’s message, I want to encourage you to please take a moment to read slowly through the names below. In July, these men and women were part of intact, happy families, on a particular mission, performing a job they all loved.
Pfc3 Anthony C. Garcia – LCpl James D. Argentine – LCpl Travis T. Babine – Cpl Christian A. Guzman Rivera – Sgt Jay M. Hoskins – Captian Matthew C. Freeman – SSgt Tara J. Smith – Spc Matthew K.S. Swanson – Sgt Jerry R. Evans Jr – LCpl Dennis J. Burrow – LCpl Javier Olvera – LCpl Patrick W. Schimmel – Spc Richard A. Walters Kuwait – LCpl Bruce Ferrell – Captain John Tinsley – Sgt William J. Cahir – LCpl Joshua M. Bernard – Cpl Nicholas R. Roush – Sgt 1st Class William B. Woods Jr – LCpl Leopold F. Damas – Gunnery Sgt Adam F. Benjamin – Spc William Z. Van Osdol – Spc
Matthew D. Hastings – Spc Paul E. Dumont Jr – SSgt Clayton P. Bowen – PFC Morris L. Walker – 1st Sgt Jose S.N. Crisostomo – Pfc Brian M. Wolverton – Spc Justin R. Pellerin – Sgt Matthew L. Ingram – Spc Troy O. Tom – Pfc Jonathan C. Yanney – SSgt Andrew T. Lobosco – 2nd Lt Joseph D. Fortin – Cpl Darby T. Morin – LCpl Donald J. Hogan – Capt John L. Hallett III – Capt Cory J. Jenkins – Sgt 1st Class Ronald W. Sawyer – Spc Dennis M. Williams – Pfc Matthew E. Wildes – SSgt Kurt R. Curtiss – Sgt Earl D. Werner – Pvt Taylor D. Marks – Spc Abraham S. Wheeler III – SSgt Jason S. Dahlke – Pfc Eric W. Hario.
You may not recognize these names. They may not mean anything to you personally, but they are the military heroes who gave their lives in August 2009, so that America and other nations may live in freedom.
In the last 30 days, every family of these brave warriors heard a knock on the door and the words “We regret to inform you …” Forty-seven blue stars in an instant tragically became gold. The effect on these families is now rippling throughout their worlds with waves of devastation, untold pain and unanswered questions. It is a time they may have imagined could happen, but one they could never have prepared for. In a moment their lives were changed forever. In the months and years to come, they will begin to pick up the pieces, to heal as best they can. But there will never be words that will make a difference, never be a cure for that hole in their hearts. There will be only forced acceptance and the repetitive thought that life can sometimes be too interminably long.
You may not know who these men and women were, but they are more than mere statistics on a report. Forty-seven heroes with mothers and fathers, grandparents, wives, children, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, friends, co-workers, schoolmates, neighbors and fellow citizens … and their comrades in arms who were with them when they died. These 47 lives have now touched thousands in death. Sadly, not once do I recall hearing the name of a fallen hero mentioned nationally last month. I hope that you did.
These heroes, their families and the millions of others like them are why Honor and Remember exists. They are the fuel for the passion that drives our cause. Their legacy lives on. But will they be remembered by more than their families and friends? We cannot and should not wait until next Memorial Day to acknowledge their sacrifice. We must not wait a year to let the families know that we care, to express our thanks for what they have given to America.
The Honor and Remember Flag is already flying proudly in thousands of places around the country for all of those lost in service to America last month and before, silently signifying thanks to those families who will be numb for much, much longer and for those who will suffer the same loss this month and next.
Thank you for partnering with us to keep these memories alive and for displaying this symbol of remembrance that speaks with more volume than canons. Please pray for our active duty military and their families, for we know there will be more knocks on the door and more families to comfort.
Thank you for joining us on this perpetual journey of healing. There is much more to be done.
Sign the Petition ~ Share the Vision ~ Fly the Flag
Our Hero’s Story – Debbie Drexler
I was sitting on the porch one day, thinking about the son we lost to the war in Iraq, when a strange thought occurred to me. What should the American Idol TV show really be about? Rather than focusing on singers, what if the program was all about individuals who ought to be true American idols?
As I entertained this thought, I envisioned myself going on the American Idol stage, carrying my son’s boots and hat. Following closely behind me are two handsome servicemen in full uniform, carrying the U.S. flag between them. One is a Marine and one a Sailor, both so handsome, both my sons. All eyes are on us as we approach the center of the stage. Finally, we are standing in front of the judges named Honor, Pride and Freedom.
As my hands tremble and tears run down my face, I reach for the microphone and say, “I am only a mother. I have no talent to speak of. Of all the things I have done in this world, nothing is greater than raising three honorable and fine sons. One gave his life for our freedom, freedom that many of us take for granted.” The judge named Freedom has tears in her eyes and she rises to her feet and says, “I know their names. I know what they’ve done. As long as there is life, they will never be forgotten.”
Off to the side a small young boy stands up and starts walking toward the stage. He comes over and looks up at me with big blue eyes. I kneel down and places the boots on the floor next to me. He stands directly in front of me. “You don’t know me,” he says. “I was to be your grandson, but because my daddy was killed so young, I was never born.” Tears stream down my face as I reach out to touch him. All I can feel is air. Another shadow comes toward me from off in the distance. As it gets closer, I can make out the face. It’s my dear son Jeremy in full dress Army uniform and proud as he can be.
“Mom, don’t worry about me,” he says. “I know you’re in pain, but don’t grieve so much that it consumes you. I am proud of what I have done for our country. I am so proud of my brothers. I will see you again someday. I know you feel I have been forgotten, but I am not. My Father in heaven knows and so do you. As long as you remember me, I know I have done well.”
My two other sons can’t believe what they are seeing. Jeremy walks up to them, stands at attention and salutes. “You are my brothers,” Jeremy says. “I am very proud of you and I will always be with you.” He steps back, gives them a final salute, and turns to leave, hand in hand with the little boy. And then they are gone. All of the judges are standing. My American Idol daydream ends as I pick up the boots and walk off stage with my two sons following, carrying the American flag.
The winners of the American Idol TV show go on to achieve fame and wealth. People around the country admire them. But what about the men and women who lose their lives in service to America? Where is the tribute they deserve? We must honor and remember their sacrifice! I speak with a shattered heart and I beg you with all my soul: Don’t forget our fallen heroes.
Debbie Drexler, proud mother of
PFC. Jeremy Drexler, KIA May 2, 2004, Iraq,
SGT. Kenneth Drexler, U.S. Marines
AM2 Timothy Drexler, U.S. Navy
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 – Norma Luther
In 1988 my son died in a helicopter crash in Germany during very foggy weather. I remember thinking, Why did this have to happen to my son? He did things the right way and tried to follow his Christian teachings. I wondered why his life was taken just as it seemed he was on his way to a great career and wonderful life with his wife. I cried buckets of tears and tried so hard to make sense of it all without success. I was so angry with God!
For years I carried that anger around. Sometimes I think the anger is what kept me going. I couldn’t read anything in the New Testament. I read Psalms, Proverbs, Job. I just wanted to read about the sorrow of others, hoping I would find the answer to moving forward. It seemed as if no one remembered him after only a few weeks and they didn’t even want to talk about him or his death.
Four years later, I was attending a women’s retreat and the exercise for the evening was to write something we wanted to get rid of in our lives. We were to write it down on paper and throw the paper in the fireplace to burn up. So I wrote that I wanted to give up my anger towards God. I wish I could say I was instantly healed but I wasn’t. However, I was better and as time went on I was able to get back to a relationship with God, my heavenly Father, that was not always tinged with anger.
I remember wishing I could have a memorial for my son; something that would be visible for people to know my son had lived and ultimately gave his life while serving his country. I never was bitter towards the military because my son chose his path and wanted to go to West Point. He was proud of his service and for me to be bitter would have demeaned everything for which his life stood. The principles he upheld while he was living were also worth dying for.
I believe accidental service-related deaths are not given enough honor and respect. I believe that even if a soldier dies in a training accident while in boot camp, he deserves honor for taking that step to serve his country. We don’t really pay any attention to these deaths. We shake our heads and say, “What a shame,” but that is the end of it. What if we treated our police and fire personnel like that? I guess sometimes we do that without meaning to and it is a shame, but at least the firefighters and police officers give their fallen the honor and respect that is properly deserved.
Each death protecting others in the line of duty should be given honor and respect and homage should be paid. After all, our country counts on these people to keep us free and to be there to fight if the occasion arises. They are no less worthy than those who died in battle. How can we treat these deaths with anything less than the highest respect and greatest honor?
The Honor and Remember Flag will be that memorial I so longed for when my son died. Thank you, George, for coming up with this idea.
Norma Luther, national chaplain and newsletter editor,
National President, American Gold Star Mothers.
Proud mother of Capt. Glen P. Adams, Jr.
Recent News and Upcoming Events
September, October and November will be extremely busy with many Personalized flag presentations scheduled throughout the months. Please watch our home page for additional information.
Sept 25/26 – We will be in Washington DC for the special Weekend of Remembrance, and also attending events related to the Gold Star Mothers organization. Five personalized Honor and Remember flags will be presented this weekend in two separate ceremonys.
October 15th , 2009, Thursday, 9:30 am
UVAF “Veterans Challenge”Charity Golf Tournament
560 Summer Lake Lane – Virginia Beach, VA, 23454
Mobile (757) 235-3733 * Fax (866) 646-2460
Registration and driving range opens at 9:30AM
Click here for registration form.
November 4-5 – New York City trip – Planning a trip to visit the morning news programs the morning of November 5th. I am asking all Gold Star families and supporters in the area to consider joining us in creating national awareness that Thursday before Veterans day. Please write for more info.
November 7th, 2009
Everyone Welcome To Ride & Support Our Disabled Veterans
5 personalized Honor and Remember flags will be presented.
Motorcycles & Automobiles
Registration 9:00 to 10:30AM (Biker Breakfast Available)
At Busky’s Chill & Grill in Chesapeake, VA
(Hanbury Village – 237 Hanbury Road East, Suite 32)
Click here for registration form.
Very Impressive, glad to see this, long overdue. God Bless our Military! I can’t believe this isn’t on more of the blogs, first time I’ve heard of this. Will do my part to spread the word.
(Wills Point, TX)
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of those who fear Him.” Psalm 116:15 Remembering Glenn Dale Hicks, II and thanking countless others for your sacrifices on our behalf.
I served 2 tours in Nam w/ the 25TH. I fly this beautiful Flag whenever I ride my motorcycle. I also take some ‘Honor and Remember’ Cards along & pass them out to folks. Thanks George & I pray that this Flag blesses all those that fly it. I’m on board with this and spreading the word…. US Navy.
I’m glad to say my flag waves proudly over the skies of Port Norfolk. And I support the effort of the flag campaign.
(Charles Town, WV)
I think this is an awesome idea. As a vet I know I appreciate it and even more now that my son is overseas with the USMC!
(Twin Falls, Idaho)
George – It was a honor meeting you at GOTG last week. I so appreciated the way you have made this effort your “life’s mission”. Please know that we in the PGR support you. Thanks for all you do. Idaho State Captain, Patriot Guard Riders.