Dad & Daughter Sacrifice for Troops
Civilian Brandon Kent and his seven-year-old daughter Gabrielle are on a mission—to provide the highest quality Tactical eyewear for the troops! It’s been a long and difficult road, but they are about to send their first group of protective glasses to troops in Afghanistan. And they could use your help!
It all began when Brandon reconnected with Andy, a junior high buddy he’d lost track of over the years. Andy was headed to his 4th combat deployment, so Brandon offered his support and asked, “What can we do for you? What do you need?”
Andy reported his unit needed high-quality protective eyewear—sunglasses and goggles that wouldn’t shatter and damage the eyes—since replacements for damaged equipment come out of soldiers’ pockets. Brandon set to work researching the eyewear Andy recommended, then contacted one manufacturer’s military division and told them about the fundraiser he and Gabrielle were doing. The company was happy to offer a steep discount but couldn’t assist until Brandon and Gabrielle had formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
They began the process of becoming a 501(c)(3), but there was a filing fee and Brandon’s life as a single father and Traffic Control Flagger didn’t give them much wiggle room. One local store manager gave them a $100 bill out of his pocket, but that’s all they could muster. Just before Christmas Gabrielle overheard her father talking about not having enough for the filing fee. “I don’t need any toys or clothes for Christmas.” she said. “Instead of having Christmas, I just want to help the soldiers.” Brandon asked if she was sure and she replied “Your friend is over there and he needs help.”
“I tried not to cry,” he recalled.
|Gabrielle poses with members of the 41st Brigade Combat Team, a unit out of her home state of Oregon. She attended their deployment ceremony to learn more about their needs and how her charity, America’s Warriors, could help them.|
Then they ran into another roadblock: the eight to nine-month waiting period for IRS processing. Brandon called every day for a week and was eventually put in touch with a very senior official who put the 501(c)3 papers for America’s Warriors in his hands in a matter of days. Since then, another major supplier has joined the team.
Other challenges they’ve had to overcome were a dysfunctional website and a website design process that went to pieces.
Finally, through sheer determination and grit, they have a functional website and their first 13 pairs of high-quality tactical glasses and googles from partners ESS Eye Pro and Revision Eye Wear are headed to Afghanistan… along with notes from friends and neighbors across the state of Oregon, a big banner that explains the philosophy of America’s Warriors, and a picture of Brandon and Gabrielle—a relentless man and his loving little girl.
This week they drained the charity’s bank account to pay the yearly website bill and postage on the packages to Afghanistan, with more bills to come as they continue their terrific work. Soldiers’ Angels encourages Americans to take a look and support AmericasWarriors.org, as led by this dedicated father-daughter team.
|Gabrielle requests an autograph from one of her heroes.|
Due to unforeseen circumstances, my time here has been severely limited, and our IT folks were unable to continue volunteering their time for free. As this website is mainly here just to give the general populace and idea of who we are, I have not tried to institute a huge blog following, even though you might see a few stray comments and stories on here from time to time.
Please note that we will start to upgrade the site this week, so that we can fill you in on some recent activities that have taken place or are currently underway. Thanks for your patience and remember, as long as the troops are out in the field for us, we should be there for them in any way possible.
I found this on the Net and I thought some of you folks might appreciate reading it
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead” (Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.
It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
General John A. Logan
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-B8172- 6403 DLC (b&w film neg.)]
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.
In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries.
In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.
Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.
There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50’s on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye’s Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.
To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”
The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.
But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: “Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”
On January 19, 1999 Senator Inouye introduced bill S 189 to the Senate which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of “the last Monday in May”. On April 19, 1999 Representative Gibbons introduced the bill to the House (H.R. 1474). The bills were referred the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Government Reform.
© 1994 – 2009 SUVCW & David Merchant
Updated 4 April 2009
My daughter and I were at a resource meeting, at the Tigard, OR. American Legion post 148 on 15-5-2009. We were very honored to be able to talk about our charity with other organizations, and people who were considerably intertwined with the Military such as Commanding Officers and head people from the V.A.’s Administration.
Gabrielle and I were most pleased when a volunteer with the organization called Soldiers Angels, presented Gabrielle and myself with a Soldier’s Angels pin and coin for our efforts to get our charity started and help our military members. It was a very emotional moment for us, and I had to fight back the tears, as the Soldiers Angles group has done so much for our troops from care packages, to being at the hospital with supplies for our wounded when they come home with nothing.
It was a great honor for a group that has done so much for our troops, to thank us for what we are trying to do. From Gabrielle and myself, we would like to extend another thank you to Soldier’s Angels, for their recognition and support of our charity.
I would like to encourage any and all people who read this, to take the time to say thank you to a soldier whether you know them or not.
TO THE TROOPS-
Gabrielle and I are very grateful for everything that you do for us. We have not forgotten you, nor has our support for you dwindled in any way. Please let us know how we can help you by leaving us a message, and may you all be blessed by your higher power on your hard journey.
Apparently when I declined to purchase the web address www.ameriaswarriors.com along with our .org that was a mistake.
I have received some emails from folks concerned about a gentleman from Las Vegas who is apparently collecting money as a soldier for other soldiers, but there is no contact information for this individual on the site. There is a simple blurb and then a link to donate money. We have zero association with the following website www.americaswarriors.com What is also interesting, is that sometimes when you type the name of the charity, it will not bring the site up so I am a bit puzzled.
When I looked up the address through the ICANN registry, this website was apparently put up towards the end of last year, after we started makng our many military contacts. It is our sincere hope that this was not done in an attempt to deceive honest people looking for our site. We are left wondering about that however as the registered owner of the site, does not appear to be the same person who has his picture and name on the website.
We will do a bit more digging, and I do plan to call some folks to help me look into this, but I cannot do anything about the .com usage. I can only wish that at the time I purchased our website, we had been able to afford to purchase the .com but alas our funding is nothing when compared to the larger charities.
Please make sure that you tell your friends or associates, that our website ends with .org so they come to the correct website, and always double check your sources when you land on a webpage.
Take care evryone,
Hi everyone, I just wanted to take a quick moment to make sure everyone visiting our site, was clear in understanding that we have both an official EIN and Non-Profit label with the IRS.
We also have an official registry number with the Oregon DOJ. We are proud of this as that means that we have officially passed inspectionby the DOJ, for compliance with State laws regarding charitable organizations. This is important because to be perfectly honest, there are “charities” that can collect funds while prolonging the inspection process, and then simply vanish like a turd down the toilet bowl. I apologize for the graphic imagery, but that is basically what they are in my own humble opinion.
I felt that it was important for people to know that we had been presented with our registry number, due to all of the fraudulent charities popping up, and then clearing out as soon as they make a little bit of cash.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope it helps to make you feel more comfortable with our charity.
Well I apologize for the delays in posting since the departure of our soldiers on the 2nd, May, 2009. I have been working over-time and have been at a medical facility with my daughter doing some brain exams and it has all been very exhausting.
I was hoping to have many pictures of the departure ceremony for those of you who find your way to our website, unfortunately I ended up being stuck on Grand Ave. trying to control a 3-way intersection by myself, until a gentleman from The Patriot Guard Riders, happened upon me and blocked a lane with his escort truck. To Noah I am very grateful for his help.
As a result I missed the ceremony, but I was able to meet up with several soldiers and get my information to them. I was also able to speak with some high ranking folks who passed along my information, and as a result I was just invited to some meeting involving Congressional and Senate Reps. which is absolutely awesome. I am hoping that this will be the break we need to get some financing to our charity and really be able to open up the doors to helping our troops.
I have a person getting the name of the photographer who was present for the ceremony, and when that happens I will try to get some pictures for the website, as for now I only have the pictures of Gabrielle getting a soldiers autograph and Gabrielle standing with a group of departing solders. They are great pictures however so please enjoy them. I am asking however that our pictures not be copied and/or redistributed in any way, shape, or form without my prior approval. This is something that I feel must be mentioned due to previous concerns with an not so nice individual I hope you all understand.
Well when I have more news after my meeting, I will come back and post more for everyone. We would love to get more comments on here so please feel free to leave them, and if you can leave your name, rank and what you are currently doing that would be great (specific location not required of course)
take care and may all of you walk a safe and protected path.
Well we had a massive troop deployment this Saturday past, I got some neat photos of my daughter with some Soldiers that were deploying from the 41st. I had to work overtime at my other job this weekend, so I will try to get some facts about the deployment up this week along with some photo’s.<p>
There will be more troops deploying from Oregon this week. Please see below for dates and locations and please try to come out and give our troops your love and support, so that they know there are people here helping to hold down the homefront.<p>
*Deployment Ceremony – Eugene, OR – 04 May 09
Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, & Delta companies of the 2/162 infantry battalion on Monday May 4 2009. The ceremony starts at 0900 and is being held at the Lane county fairgrounds.<p>
*Coos Bay National Guard is traveling to Medford for deployment on Monday 5/4/09*. They will be heading out from the local armory at 0600, but I do not have an arrival time.<p>
I would suggest you google your arrival time from wherever you are, and plan on showing up at least 45 minutes earlier than you see on the Google map or whatever you use, in order to make sure you do not miss the ceremonies.
Unfortunately I was given the wrong date of Tuesday the 5th as the departure date. Because of this there is a conflict with my other job as a Flagger, and I will be unable to attend and meet with those of you who come to support our troops. I will also be unable to speak with the Soldiers about our charity and will have to rely on word of mouth to let them know of the help we can give them.<p>
I hope that many of you attend the ceremonies, and please look for more updates and some pictures from me in the following week when I have had a chance to rest.
Take care and God Bless our Troops and our great Nation.
We Will be posting more facts this weekend so be patient and check back with us sometime after Sunday 2-22-09
We have not been able to gain any more facts yet, all that we know is what you will read below. When we have more inforamtion regarding our home unit’s we will let you folks know, so check back in often. This is a huge deployment so please donate now and help us be prepared to give a hand to our Men and Women preparing to leave if they need it. In what would be the biggest deployment of Oregon National Guard troops since World War II, all 3,500 members of the 41st Brigade Combat Team have been put on alert that they will be called to active duty in 2009. “This is part of what the Guard and the Army have been working toward for a number of years since this whole war started…trying to give guardsmen plenty of lead time so they can work with their families, their employers and any other issues that may crop up,” said Oregon National Guard Brigadier General Mike Caldwell. The soldiers could be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, but Caldwell said they have not been told yet where they will be going. He said even though these 3,500 troops make up more than half of the state’s 6,400 Army National Guard soldiers, they will be able to handle any other emergencies that come up here in Oregon. There are approximately 8600 total members between the Oregon Army and Air National Guards. The 41st Brigade Combat Team is headquartered in Tigard, with troops based throughout the state.