William “Bill” Hempel loved being a Marine. “I went in as a punk, and came out a man,” he said of his service to our country. Bill had seen the Honor Bell during a presentation at an elementary school last November. He told his family that learning about the Honor Bell, and seeing the children there gave him hope for the future. In the picture at left, the pride on his face was unmistakable.
“Knowing that Bill was so proud of his military service and knowing how much seeing the Honor Bell meant to him, we had the idea to request bell honors at his remembrance,” said Bill’s family. “It was an unusual request, but the staff at the Honor Bell Foundation were incredible and graciously agreed to provide bell honors for Bill.”
Bill Hempel, a beloved husband, father, and grandfather passed away on September 3rd. He had explicitly expressed his desire to have no funeral or memorial service: after his death he wanted the focus to be on his life, not his passing. He was fine with family having a short remembrance at one of his favorite parks.
The tolling of the Honor Bell was the anchor point for Bill’s remembrance. “For our family, it was the equivalent of playing Taps at a military funeral,” they said. “The tolling of Honor Bell represented the full life cycle of Bill and his military service to our country. It was incredibly meaningful for Bill to be honored by his fellow veterans. They provided Bill with a proper, final tribute. Having Honor Bell Foundation at Bill’s remembrance will be a memory that will be emblazoned on our hearts forever.”
The Meaning of Veterans Day
By the Family of William “Bill” Hempel, USMC
Each year, Veterans Day honors individuals who selflessly served in the United States Armed Forces. What does Veterans Day mean to us? This year it means a great deal. Our family recently lost William “Bill” Hempel. Bill was our husband, father, and grandfather—and this will be our first Veterans Day without him. He proudly served as a United States Marine and was the last surviving family member with military service.
Veterans Day represents freedom. Bill defended and protected our freedom. He knew that he might never come back home but bravely served. Bill defended the liberty of complete strangers. Bill knew that freedom is never free.
Veterans Day represents honor. Bill earned the reverence and the dignity that he was owed. He served our country and asked for nothing in return. Bravery is a strength that is internal, not external. We owe him the highest level of respect and honor for his service.
Veterans Day represents sacrifice. Bill left his life and family at home to defend our country. He was willing to sacrifice everything to protect our life and liberty. We deeply appreciate the sacrifices that he made.
Veterans Day gives gratitude to Bill and to all of the individuals who served. We owe veterans a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.