On Saturday Duke brought by a couple coins we designed and are going to hand out at the Toledo, Ohio Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Event, 5-9 Jun 2013.
I have known Duke – Duke Wheeler – for 10 years or so now. He owns and operates ‘The Whitehouse Christmas Tree Farm’ just up the street. He also operates the Butterfly House, a fresh-water shrimp farm and a corn maze. Quite a busy, and remarkable man! And through it all, he has never lost sight of the military. On numerous occasions he has sponsored “appreciation events” for our local troops. From bar-b-ques to Christmas trees. His latest endeavor is the “Toledo (Ohio) Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Event,” http://www.toledoveteransevent.com/. And here is where he invited me to play.
I have been trying to get Congress to recognize the sacrifices, contributions and commitment of Military Brats to our nation since December 2009. My U.S. Representative, Bob Latta, R/OH has graciously introduced 3 pieces of legislation (HR 5333 (Mar. 2010), HR 1014 (Mar. 2011) and Hr 1889 (May 2013), proposing that Congress authorize a Congressional Lapel pin for ‘the Children of Military Service Members.’ (They are afraid of the term ‘Military Brats!’ Okay, what-ever…) Duke has also been very supportive of this initiative throughout the past 4 years. So, I wasn’t too surprised when he asked me if I wanted to participate in this event…
He suggested we create a “challenge coin” specifically for the Military Brats of Vietnam Era Vets to hand out at the Event. What a great idea! So, using his initial suggestion of using the Vietnam Memorial depiction of 3 soldiers for the front of the coin,
Duke had 3,000 of these coins struck, and we will begun handing them out on Wednesday night.
It is my hope that somehow this coin gains national attention, and brings attention to our bill before Congress for a Congressional Lapel Pin for Military Brats. Duke told me that if I get hauled off to jail for using the likeness of the Vietnam Memorial without permission, that ought to do it – give us the publicity we need. If that’s what it takes, come get my ass!
When Duke came over last Saturday with my coins, he shared a story I think says it all. He told me of stopping for gas on the way over and seeing a guy walking with a cane. He asked the man if he was a Vet.
“Yes,” the guy told Duke, “from Vietnam. The ‘Triple Nickel’ Squadron.'”
Duke then reached into his truck and gave him a commemorative Vietnam Veteran’s hat. He then asked the man if he had any kids and was told that he had 3. Duke then told him he had something else for him, and handed him 3 of our coins.
The man had tears in his eyes as he accepted the coins. We know what these coins will mean to our kids! We know what a Congressional Lapel Pin will mean to our kids….