It's been awhile since I've sat down to blog, but I have a good excuse; I've been finishing the book I've been working on for almost a year. FINAL TRIBUTES is just about ready to go to my book designer and it has been an incredibly emotional journey. Imagine, if you will, typing the names of 6,532 dead soldiers; their names, ages, hometowns, when and how they died. It's something that drains you and, at times, leaves you simply numb.
Why do I do it? Because I have a deep need to honor the fallen, but remember the living. Remembering the living, their families and loved ones, gives me the impetus to press forward and complete this mission. In doing so, I let them know their heroes have not been forgotten. Several days ago while entering some soldier's names, there were two that appeared with the same last name and hometown. It couldn't be a coincidence, and it wasn't. They were two brothers killed three years apart.
What an unspeakable tragedy. How does a family survive and cope with this? I can't imagine that, and the rest of the evening was spent wrestling with that question. It seems surreal just thinking about it.
During my journey to honor our fallen soldiers, I've met a number of incredibly talently and compassionate people. Some have created quilts, or painted free portraits of the soldiers for their families. I met a father who has honored his son with a special flag and mission that he continues. All of these inspirational people have turned their lives into a singular mission; to make the lives of thousands of fallen soldiers matter. Many have spent thousands of hours on these memorials, and in doing so have, at times, given up their jobs and earning an income.
I know people quickly lose interest in subjects and are more interested in the latest news that takes over the airwaves and everyone's conversations. Today it might be a restaurant opening and heated discussions, or Lance Armstrong giving up his medals, or any number of other hot news items churning around out there. How, then, do we ever find time to focus or keep our attention on one subject? We don't! That's why I keep nudging all of you to help bring things into focus...things I think make a difference in our world.
Men and women are still giving their lives in Afghanistan. The war continues and families keep getting the news that changes their lives forever. Time marches on and although it's hard to believe, it's been nearly a year since our town rallied together in the largest shoe collection effort I've ever seen in order to create our 9/11 Empty Shoe Memorial. My garage is filled with signs for the dead, covered with sheets, collecting dust and waiting.....for what, I'm not sure. By the way, several weeks ago I found several pairs of shoes in the corner of the garage. Gee, I wonder where those came from? It's hard to corral 5,000 pairs of shoes and not have some strays as reminders.
Now that I've completed my book (at least the writing part), I'll begin the task of marketing, but more importantly, I will begin searching for sponsors - people who want to help my mission succeed. What is that mission? I hope to send every family of a fallen soldier a free copy of "Final Tributes - Incredible Ways Americans Are Remembering Our Fallen Troops". I can't afford to do it on my own, so I hope to garner the support of others who will chip in and help sponsor books for these deserving families. If every family wanted a copy, we would need to send out 6,532 books right now! I believe that I will eventually accomplish that....but not without help from many people, companies and organizations.
I'm planning some great things - books signings, etc., that will help promote my mission of gratitude. As I refine these opportunities, I'll be letting you know. There are over a dozen stories of amazing Americans who have found both unique and inspirational ways to honor the fallen. The back two-thirds of the book lists the names of all of them, along with their information. No one wants their loved one to be forgotten when they die. That's something that I hear over and over again. We want their lives to have mattered. I've tried to help in that respect.
As 9/11 approaches, we can't help but think that was the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism which continues today. There'll be no anniversary event this year. That doesn't mean we have forgotten, and I hope all of you will remember those victims with a moment of silence. Whenever you see that red, white and blue symbol of freedom flying, please remember that it comes with a hefty price. If we remember that, and understand it, then it won't have been in vain.
As always....live an inspired and patriotic life.