Honor Bell Participates in Dedication of New Veterans Administration Medical Building

Honor Bell Participates in Dedication of New Veterans Administration Medical Building

Last Saturday we were honored to take part in the dedication of the Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Center. We tolled the Honor Bell in memory of our founder, Louis Olivera, and in memory of all other deceased veterans in Colorado. See photos from the event here.

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Let's Help give our heroes the final farewell they deserve

Let's Help give our heroes the final farewell they deserve

The Honor Bell Foundation needs your help to bring dignified, final honors to our nation’s deceased veterans. We have created a 1,000-pound bell, called the Honor Bell, which veterans toll in lieu of or as a complement to other military funeral honors. But the bell will not be able to toll for every veteran who deserves it without your help.

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A letter from our director

Khloee Ortiz smiles at her dad Staff Sgt. Cesar Ortiz just before his departure to Afghanistan in 2011.  Source

Khloee Ortiz smiles at her dad Staff Sgt. Cesar Ortiz just before his departure to Afghanistan in 2011. Source

This Wednesday, millions of Americans will celebrate Veterans Day. This is a moment to honor all of the men and women who answered the call to serve in defense of our country. As General George S. Patton, Jr. said, “The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.”

At the Honor Bell Foundation, we believe it is the highest obligation of our country to honor our citizen veterans at their time of death. Unfortunately, that is not always able to be accomplished by our military.

Veterans, recognized at a ceremony at Pearl Harbor on the 70th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks there.  Source

Veterans, recognized at a ceremony at Pearl Harbor on the 70th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks there. Source

For many vets, their funerals may be the only time they’ve received thanks from their country and community. This is seen in the vets from Vietnam, who did their duty with courage and valor, returning to a nation that had its back turned. This is seen in the vets from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, many of whom struggle with the invisible illness of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, making it hard for them to fully integrate and participate in civilian life. And this is seen in the vets from World War II and Korea, who, because of government cutbacks, are being buried in record numbers without the honors that are their due.

The Honor Bell Foundation was created to honor all veterans: calling them to perform a noble service, and honoring those who have died with the seven solemn tolls of the Honor Bell. This one-thousand-pound instrument is well on its way to being cast and ready for service in early 2016, to create a historic legacy for all who have served and sacrificed for our country.

Soldiers and family members of deceased members of the Military Intelligence Service, the 100th Infantry Bn., and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team receiving their Congressional Gold Medals at a ceremony in 2012.  Source .

Soldiers and family members of deceased members of the Military Intelligence Service, the 100th Infantry Bn., and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team receiving their Congressional Gold Medals at a ceremony in 2012. Source.

When the Honor Bell is commissioned, the history of Colorado’s fallen service members will be forged within it. We will place military badges, medals, and dog tags from every branch of service into the molten bronze when it is cast, making the bell truly “forged from honor.” We are asking for your help in locating appropriate artifacts from our state’s military heritage for inclusion into the Honor Bell. The artifacts should represent all branches of our nation’s military and come from deceased Colorado service members. Currently, we have three artifacts committed to the bell: the military dog tags from Marine Private First Class Andrew G. Riedel, an item from Army Green Beret Staff Sergeant Chris Falkel, and an item from legendary Colorado businessman Bill Daniels, who served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. We would be honored to include items from any service member, from any conflict. If you have an artifact to donate, please fill out this short form and we will contact you.

There are other ways you can help to honor our nation’s veterans. By supporting the Honor Bell’s mission with a donation, or, if you are a veteran, by participating in the Bell Honor Guard. But perhaps the most important way you can honor those who have served and sacrificed is to thank a veteran for their service, and take a moment to be proud of all those who protect our nation.

Yours in patriotism,

 

Louis Olivera

Executive Director

 

 

Veterans meet to help focus Foundation's mission

This past week, over twenty veterans came together to learn about the Bell Honors program, and helped to refine the Foundation’s Bell Honors operating procedures. After a presentation on the Foundation and its programs by Executive Director Louis Olivera, participants witnessed a demonstration of the rendering of Bell Honors using our life-sized replica bell, and then broke into workgroups to discuss how the ceremony could effectively be executed once the Honor Bell is in place at Fort Logan National Cemetery. 

“I think it’s a great mission.  I believe all veterans are deserving of honors and the Honor Bell Foundation provides a unique and professional service to those vets.” –workshop participant

The veterans, who span three generations and included service members from the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines, offered logistical suggestions on everything from coordinating services with the cemetery staff, to how the Bell Honors Liaison—stationed at the interment service site— would communicate with the rest of the tolling party, located with the Honor Bell. The workgroups also suggested creating a physical memento of the Bell Honors experience that could be presented to the departed’s family, along with suggestions on other family-directed communications at the service itself. 

“Long overdue! This is the right thing to do and I am honored to be a part of it.” –workshop participant

The workshop was held at the Arvada Elks Lodge #2278, and was catered by Fat Jack’s Supersubs; thanks to everyone who made the evening a success.

The Foundation has scheduled additional workshops in November with veterans, to assist it with other aspects of its programs and mission. If you are a veteran, and would like to participate, please email Veterans Outreach director Bob Dawes

Meet our Director of Veterans Outreach, Bob Dawes

Bob Dawes, Director of Veterans Outreach

Bob Dawes, Director of Veterans Outreach

Bob Dawes knows vets. For the last ten years, Dawes has helped veterans build confidence, their ties to one another, and other tools to help them reintegrate into civilian society. Through his work creating the Outward Bound for Veterans Program, serving as President of the Worldwide Army Rangers, Commander of the Aurora chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) as well as the Colorado MOPH Department Senior Vice Commander, Dawes has brought vets together. "Veterans who have honorably served their country have sacrificed a great deal to protect freedom and our way of life deserve recognition and respect,” says Dawes. "They have asked very little in return and many have struggled to find a meaningful place in society."

As the Director of the Veterans Outreach, Bob will be instrumental in designing a veteran centric program, recruiting veterans through liaison efforts with Colorado's numerous Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), and training vets for the Bell Honors Program. Veterans’ participation as Bell Honor Guards will build intergenerational relationships between vets, and help give vets a new way to serve, both their fellow service members and their community.

As Dawes says, “veterans' families have lived with their loved ones' sacrifices and struggles to the same extent — or in some cases even more than — the veteran. At the end of the day they need to know that the honor and respect that their loved one served with is recognized by a grateful nation, but more importantly by the people who truly understand their sacrifice: his or her fellow Veterans."

Dawes is a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and later served as an Army Ranger School Instructor. Bob is a graduate of Ranger school, and received the Purple Heart Medal. We are honored and excited to have such a passionate and committed leader on our team.