Founder’s Message – Changing a Mindset
It was just four years ago in November that my son Tony was deployed to his first tour in Iraq. It was his first holiday away from home. Six weeks later, on December 29th, he was gone, the victim of a sniper’s bullet. Now, regardless of the how and why, the holidays will always be beyond difficult.
Throughout last month, while watching television news and listening to talk radio, I was reminded of how appreciative we should be for all that we have. There were dozens of wonderful stories of Thanksgiving memories and reports about families who have loved ones in military service overseas. However, as our nation gives thanks, we must remember that precious lives have been taken to protect the freedom we enjoy. Unfortunately, that message is often forgotten.
I listen intently for someone with a national voice to purposefully add “and let’s also remember those brave men and women who gave their lives for our freedom and their familes that have sacrificed so much.” Now, how difficult would that be for our national superstars to remind us all of why we are so blessed?
As we enter the Christmas season, I ask everyone to take time not only to thank our God and our military for the blessings we enjoy as Americans, but also to especially thank the families who will forever have an empty chair at the table.
As a result of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars alone, more than 5000 families have experienced loss. This year nearly 500 are missing a loved one for the first time. Over the course of our history, nearly two million families have endured this tragic experience. Regardless of the era of conflict or time of year, we must remember those who bear the burden of immeasurable loss and stand with them in perpetual remembrance.
Since we began this mission, I have insisted that we need to change the mindset of a nation. I am continually reminded of how difficult that is. Granted, it doesn’t feel good to pause and reflect on the lives lost in service to America. It’s painful. Who wants to be thankful for loss and sacrifice? But at this time of year it is especially poignant to remember the sacrifice that Christians believe began with a birth to secure eternal life for all. Other sacrifices have been made to maintain our American ideals.
We turn away from the image of families staring at the empty chair at the holiday table, longing for a different reality – the presence of a son or daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister who will never be part of this or any other family celebration, except in spirit. I heard recently that a military loss affects one out of every fourteen families in our country. Our Gold Star families and friends never forget about that loss, they only accept it. The rest of America should keep that in mind.
So how do we change the mindset of a nation that would rather think about less disturbing things than the loss of a loved one? We should encourage everyone that being respectfully grateful is a positive way to make the uncomfortable comfortable. All Americans should have a mindset that is always conscious of the blood that has been shed so that the rest of us can be free from the evil that plagues so much of the world. We hope to inspire that mindset with a symbol, a simple flag. The Honor and Remember Flag was designed as a way for this country to say thank you when there are no other words.
Allow me to suggest a gift this Christmas for all families of fallen heroes: a simple thank you. In addition to expressing that thanks directly to the family, another way to say thank you is to support the Honor and Remember mission to establish a national symbol of remembrance that perpetually recognizes the sacrifice of those families. Help us to visually make a public statement. Family members, friends and comrades pass your door, your business and your vehicle every day. You may not see them, but they will see the statement you make by displaying an Honor and Remember Flag, wearing a hat or displaying a bumper sticker on your car.
With your continued support, we move passionately forward to change the mindset of a nation.
God bless you,
Sign the Petition ~ Share the Vision ~ Fly the Flag
| Our Hero’s Story – George Lutz
Many people have been asking about our son’s story and since Tony’s birthday is this month, here is a bit about my hero.
George Anthony Lutz II (Tony) was born in Virginia, December 12, 1980. He was our first son and second child in a family that would grow to five. He was a determined boy in many ways, which proved to be an advantage as he passionately pursued both baseball and cross country throughout his early years. Tony had a quick wit and loved to engage people in conversation, making it his mission to insure that those around him were enjoying themselves. In his particular way he was personally engaging and everyone he met instantly liked him. His love for sports eventually took him to Shenandoah University where he excelled as captain of his cross-country team.
Not long after college, he met the love of his life, Tiffany, and they were married in 2002. Tony quickly realized that he had a natural talent for sales because he could be extremely persuasive in most situations. That talent coupled with his athletic ability led him down the path of military service. After exploring the various options presented by the five branches of the military, he realized that the U.S. Army held the most potential, even though his grandfather and great grandfather had been Navy men. He chose the field of psychological operations, which in laymen’s terms means persuasive communications. This fit him perfectly. Training was a challenge that he embraced head on, excelling at every level, especially PT.
On December 29, 2005, while on patrol with the 2/6 marines in Fallujah Iraq, Tony’s life was taken instantly by a sniper’s bullet. Tony was a kind, loving and godly man. He left behind a caring wife and two beautiful children, Anthony and Ava. He was known by many names: son, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew, husband and father.
There are no words to express how deeply he is missed. We know now that God had an eternal plan and that out of his sacrifice and many others, we all continue to live free. God bless this country and all who wear the uniform to protect us every day.
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 email@example.com
Why I’m on Board – Kate McLaughlin
On March 17, 2008, my life was changed forever. I heard the doorbell ring that every mother dreads when her two sons are serving their country in the military. My oldest son, Christopher, was deployed for his second tour of duty in Iraq at the time. On that tragic day, Chris and SSgt Michael Elledge were taken instantly when a roadside bomb struck their convoy on the way back from a mission.
Chris was the type of kid that, upon meeting him, you felt like you had known him forever. Every time he went home on leave to Syracuse, New York, his friends and family couldn’t get enough of him! I remember him telling me that vacations were sometimes even more stressful than being at work because he wanted so badly to fit in seeing everyone! As the oldest of 14 grandchildren, he was admired dearly by the kids; the little ones were always by his side and the older ones wanted to grow up to be just like him. Somehow, he always managed to spend time with everyone, and his fiancée, Carol, was always right there by his side. Their relationship, with its love, friendship, trust, and continuous support, was amazing. I feel like the luckiest Mom, and Carol will forever be my daughter-in-law… I thank Chris for her always.
I’m so grateful that as he grew up, Chris and I were able to become such good friends, just as he and his brother, Richard, were. They were only two years apart, and as they got older, they learned to really appreciate each other. They both joined the military in 2004 because they wanted to give back to this great nation that they were so proud to live in. Rich is now honorably discharged from the USMC and is continuing to serve his country as a government contractor; he’ll be heading to Afghanistan at the end of the month. I’m so proud of both of my sons.
Not a day goes by without me thinking of Chris and what he and the rest of our fallen heroes have sacrificed for us. I miss him dearly and there are days I feel as though I can’t go on; but then I remember the promise that I made to him. I promised that I could continue to be the Mom that I am and the person that I am and to be there for those he left behind. There will never be a day when I don’t think of him with honor and respect, and I will always appreciate all those who serve.
Chris is the reason I joined Honor and Remember. Not only will I honor and remember my son, but all of our nation’s fallen heroes. I had the pleasure of meeting George at the Time of Remembrance ceremony this past September, and we spoke briefly about the Honor and Remember mission. Since then, I have joined in trying to get the word out about this wonderful flag. It is a great privilege for me to be a part of this effort, and I feel that it is the mission Chris set me to do.
My life will never go back to what it was prior to March 17, 2008, but I have had to learn to live life in a different way. I have the wonderful memories that I shared with Chris in the 23 years he was with us. I cherish the times we spent together, and I live life like Chris would…with adventure!!! I miss you, Bud… but we will all be together again. Continue to guide us and watch over us; give us the strength to get through the days. Forever in my heart… “Home of the Free Because of the Brave” … with love, honor, respect, and pride.
News and Upcoming Events
The 2010 calendar is now filling with ceremonies, trade shows, festivals and presentations. If you would like to consider Honor and Remember in your planning for the year please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the campaign, this summer we are planning a national awareness bus tour and would be privileged to include your event in our schedule if possible. We are planning personalized flags presentations in every state possible. Please write soon so that we can coordinate schedules.
If you know of any company or individual who would be willing to become a trip sponsor, donate the use of a tour bus and/or the painting of a graphic wrap, let us know. Its time to bring this mission to the people. Thank you!
Just heard about your site on FOX, what a wonderful way to honor those who have fallen while serving our country. God Bless from a grateful Gold Star Mother. (Wilmington, MA)
God bless you TOM VALENTINE! The Honor and Remember flag is flying in our backyard in honor of you! (Herndon, VA)
Thanks for your site, we recently lost our brother- in-law, Kenneth Westbrook, thank you for honoring and remembering him and all our fallen heroes. I saw your signs on the Today Show, and wanted to check out your website and it is very informative. In Memory of Kenneth Westbrook and Virgil R. Case.
Heard ya on Dennis Miller Radio Show and just had to come over and check it out. Godspeed brother.
I just saw this on FOX news and I am so glad that this is being done. Tony was a great friend to me and I visit Arlington every time I am in D.C. Thanks for keeping his spirit and so many others alive. (Delaware, OH)