Founder’s Message – Thoughtful Reflection
As I write this month’s message, I feel that it is important to recognize that 50 military lives were lost in September. Please scroll down and read the new section below, “Remembering Our Latest Heroes.”
PFC William “Lee” Meridith was killed on September 21, 2009, as the vehicle in which he was riding struck an improvised explosive device (IED), as have too many others. Last week, I attended this soldier’s funeral and met his grieving family. If you have never experienced this moment, it is difficult to describe. If you have never lost a loved one, it is even more difficult to understand. One by one, the mourners stepped up to the podium. I listened as each friend and family member shared encouraging words and their best memories of Lee. I heard amazing stories of a once shy individual, who in his search for answers in his life, walked down a completely different path than most who knew him.
Earlier in the week I had been wrestling with what to write about this month in the Founder’s Message. As I watched each emotional tribute at Lee’s funeral, I began to hear a common theme. Lee was an unselfish man, full of the desire to make something of his life. He enjoyed hard work. Everyone he met loved him. One day he made a decision few others choose. He joined the U.S. Army.
About half way through the memorial service an important revelation came to me. I vividly recognized at that moment that there are two distinct types of people in our country: people who are fighting for their lives and people who are fighting with their lives. Many of us go through life seeking our own purpose, not thinking very much about the country we live in or how we achieved or maintain our freedom. We often take for granted all that we have, focusing on our personal needs, such as seeking better jobs, taking care of our families, enjoying the fruits of our labors. In a sense, we fight for all of the fine things this free country affords us. This group, of which most Americans are members, is basically “fighting” every day for their own lives.
And then there is the other group. They are the few, the ones who have taken a different road. It’s a path paved with the price of freedom, traveled by those who embrace the toll it may take to achieve it, chosen by those who know only they stand in the way of freedom’s destruction. It’s a path that places their lives in the hands of others and often ends with a knock on the door.
Who is this group of people? What makes them willing to lay down enjoying their own personal wants in order to preserve our national freedoms? These are our young, healthy, educated seemingly invincible military men and women, who are often in their early twenties, young people who are perfectly able to achieve success in a civilian world. But something else motivates them: serving. They willingly and lovingly decide that if cutting their lives short will advance the cause of freedom, then the price is not too great.
You may have heard the saying, “There have only been two defining forces in the world willing to die for you: Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. Jesus died for your soul and the American Soldier died for your freedom.”
The men and women currently serving in our military and our veterans deserve our highest respect for fighting with their lives to protect the rest of us as we fight for our lives. That’s what Honor and Remember is all about. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Thank our veterans and those serving today.
Sign the Petition ~ Share the Vision ~ Fly the Flag
Our Hero’s Story – Mary Todd
Our only son, SFC David James Todd, Jr., gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country on August 20, 2008, saving 12 American soldier’s lives. David was a soldier that every man wants to be, a father that every man hopes to be, and a friend who was admired and respected by all those who knew him, a true and honest human being who was always there for you. He was the definition of a true hero, never giving up until the mission was done, and never ever leaving a fellow soldier behind. That was proven in a fierce battle in Bala Morghab, Afghanistan on August 20, 2008, when he helped to save 12 soldiers.
According to a soldier who was saved that day, a group of American soldiers was engaged in a nine-hour battle, when a twelve-man patrol became beleaguered and in dire need of extraction from overwhelming Taliban forces. Sergeant First Class David J. Todd organized a quick reaction force of American soldiers and came to the aid of his men. SFC Todd served as a gunner during the fight and recovered his brothers through a barrage of small arms fire and rocket propelled grenade detonations. He was killed during the extraction of the patrol from the city of Joy-I-Khawaja, just three kilometers south of Bala Murghab. The men of that patrol say they will never forget David, their brother.
Our son was a fine platoon leader, always pushing the guys just a little bit more than they thought they could handle, but he knew their potential. Giving up was not an option in SFC Todd’s platoon. On a lighter note, David’s troops will never forget his love for that darn cup of coffee! Even in the miserably hot, humid temperatures of Fort Polk, Iraq or Afghanistan they would never see him without a cup of java in his hand or on his desk. When K TRP was deployed to Iraq, the request from our son was, “Send more coffee!” That I did: coffee, barbecue sauce, and beef jerky were his favorites.
To David’s fellow soldiers I’d like to say: make SFC Todd proud. Go a little above and beyond, take charge, show a fellow soldier the ropes, just as he did for you. Never forget the sacrifices he and other heroes like him have made for us. We should be thankful to them and their families forever.
Our son’s passing is extremely painful; he was the older of two children. He and his sister, Stephanie Keller, were very close, even though the miles separated them. Their love for each other was constant throughout their lives. People have said that time heals all wounds. I have a different outlook on this; I see that our lives have changed and it will be like this forever. Holidays, birthdays and other special occasions are so painful that it is indescribable.
Rest in peace, my son. One day God will join us together.
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 – Brenda Ike
I met George Lutz last year after my son, SSGT Christopher Stine, came back from his second tour in Iraq. George spent a little time chatting with Chris and me, telling us his vision about the Honor and Remember Flag. My heart went out to George after learning about him losing his son Tony in Fallujah, Iraq in December 2005.
Since last year, I have become involved with Honor and Remember and I am now the director of the organization’s first state chapter, which has been established here in Virginia. It is humbling to me to be able to hold this position and to be part of a movement that is spreading across the country. I can’t think of a better way to honor our military than to be on this front line of spreading the word about the Honor and Remember Flag and what it stands for. My husband and I proudly fly the American flag and the Honor and Remember Flag at our home. Each time I see the flag, I am reminded of the vision and the cause behind it.
So many people in this country never give a split second of thought a day to what our military men and woman sacrifice by being in war zones away from family and friends, all in the name of protecting the United States. Unlike George, I cannot begin to know how it feels to have lost a son in the war. I can only pray constantly each day that while my son is back in Fallujah on his third tour right now, that he returns home to the states safe and sound. To hear my son’s voice when he calls me on Skype from over there, or to see his face on his web cam, just lets me know he is okay. As a parent, I cannot begin to tell you the rush of relief that passes over me at that very instant.
I am so impressed with the people who stand behind our military, who thank them as they pass by and who continue to pray for their safety each and every day! I am HONORED to be part of Honor and Remember and will do everything in my power to continue to spread the word! I want to personally take a moment to thank all of the young people who make our freedom possible. We owe this to them!
Virginia State Chapter Director
Remembering Our Recent Heroes
October and November will be extremely busy with many personalized flag presentations scheduled throughout the months. Please watch our home page for additional information.
October 21st – FRA National Convention, Virginia Beach, VA. Flag Presentation- Family of Sgt Jayton D. Patterson ~ 15 Jan 2005 ~ Iraq
October 25th – Victory Life Church, Hampton, VA. Flag Presentation- Family of CW2 Ian D. Manuel ~ 8 Jan 2004 ~ Iraq
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 week before Veterans Day. Meeting the morning of Thursday, November 5th, 5:30 a.m. in front of Fox and Friends. Please write for more info.
November 6 – Cave Spring HS, Roanoke, VA – Flag presentation, Family of SSG Jesse G. Clowers Jr ~ 12 Aug 2007 ~ Afghanistan
Everyone is welcome to come Ride & Support our Disabled Veterans
Five personalized Honor and Remember Flags will be presented, one for Gold Star families from each branch of service. Motorcycles and automobiles welcome
Registration 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. (Biker breakfast available)
At Busky’s Chill & Grill in Chesapeake, VA
(Hanbury Village – 237 Hanbury Road East, Suite 32)
Click here for registration form.
November 11 – Regent University veterans program with Honor and Remember Flag dedication.
Flag Presentation to the family of SSG Jonathan K Dozier ~ 9 Jan 2008 ~ Iraq
If we can do postage stamps for Presidents, movie stars and cartoons why can’t we have a Flag for Our most deserving and bravest people on earth? Our brave women and men and all our veterans deserve the ut most respect from us. After all they are the ones that keep us safe and free. God bless them all and God bless America! …. (Belmont, OH)
While attending the GOTG 2009 I found out about the Honor and Remember Flag that is trying to get passed by Congress in honor of our fallen veterans. I wrote my Congressman Sam Graves a letter asking him to get on the bandwagon for this and sent him a brochure about the flag. I’m happy to announce that I got a letter from him yesterday (dated 16 Sep. 09) that he is supporting the idea and the bill. So Missouri is on board with the flag!!!! (Missouri)
We just were honored with a memorial service for my uncle Max L. Bailey by the POW-MIA in Rupert. My Uncle was lost in the Korean War at Chosin Reservoir. At this service my mom was given an Honor and Remember Flag. It is beautiful and a great way to honor Max. (Jerome, Idaho)
As a retired Army Sergeant Major I would like to say God bless your work and we will keep up the fight for those that paid the ultimate price for our rights and those of all Americans. (Columbia, Missouri)