When I was in junior-high school, I wore a metal POW/MIA bracelet. At the time, those silver bracelets were almost as popular as the yellow rubber “LIVESTRONG” bands that are ubiquitous now. In fact, my father still wears his, thirty years later. I’m not certain of the fate of the soldier (COL Oscar Mauterer) whose name adorns his bracelet, but my father continues to believe in the cause behind those bracelets.
Now something similar has been introduced by a man in Austin. “Hero Bracelets” are designed along the same theme as the POW/MIA bracelet I wore thirty years ago and my father continues to wear.
AUSTIN - A message from a stranger hundreds of miles away nearly brought Kristi Mann to tears.
On a Web site memorializing Mann’s brother-in-law, who died in Iraq in 2003, someone in Florida wrote: “Today I received a bracelet with James Powell’s name engraved on it. I will wear it with pride, remembering always that he died for me. HE IS NOT FORGOTTEN.”
Powell, an Army specialist, is one of thousands of fallen U.S. service members memorialized on Hero Bracelets. The black, aluminum bands are among the latest “cause bracelets,” such as the yellow “Live Strong” bands popularized by cyclist Lance Armstrong to raise money for cancer programs.
“My heart just melted when I read that,” said Mann, of Mineral Wells, whose husband, a Navy cook, is expected to leave for Iraq within a year. After reading the account, she ordered seven of the bracelets for her family….
Others across the country have rushed to buy the bracelets as well √≥ 1,000 requests a day were coming in just before Christmas, and the Austin man who sells them had to quit taking orders on his Web site.
“We are way, way, way out of our league,” said Chris Greta, 46, who sells the bracelets from his small advertising agency. For now he fills only orders that arrive in the mail, though he’s hoping to get Web sales going again this month.
Each bracelet is engraved with a service member’s name, hometown and date of death. Greta said $2 from each $8.50 sale benefit soldiers’ families. The remaining $6.50 covers manufacturing and administrative costs, he said.
Greta created the Web site herobracelets.org last month. He said he had been searching for a way to support troops in Iraq when he recalled the POW/MIA bracelets popular during the Vietnam War.
This is a fitting and wonderful tribute to those who have lost their lives in the service of their country. The fact that this effort is being coordinated by a single individual is difficult to comprehend…especially since Greta is making little, if any, profit from his labor of love.
We should keep one thing in perspective, though. As we honor the fallen, we should be cognizant of the fact that the war in Iraq IS IN NO WAY A WAR TO PROTECT OUR FREEDOMS. Iraq did not pose a threat to American security prior to our invasion, and the only legitimate reason their is an anti-American terrorist network in Iraq now is that it is a byproduct of American aggression. Of course, given that something like 70% of those who voted for George W. Bush believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9.11 attacks, I can see how a majority of Americans have unquestioningly swallowed the propaganda.
In essence, the war in Iraq is a corollary of the war in Vietnam. In both examples, we got ourselves involved in a guerilla war we neither understood nor could escape with any degree of dignity. Most of us could never understand why more than 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam. The same can easily and fairly said for the almost 1,400 who have died in vain in Iraq.
What a tremendous waste of young lives….