Greetings MCATA members and visitors to our site and blog!
This past Sunday morning, Past President and current Secretary and Webmaster of MCATA Rich Driscoll, MCATA Associate Member and originator or the VMGR Memorial Monument, Johnathan (John) Keene, and I had a Zoom conference call with American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. National President Sarah Taylor and their Information and Technology Chairman Lee-Ann Forsythe. I expect an announcement of a collaboration between Gold Star Moms and MCATA on the VMGR Memorial Monument project in the coming days or weeks. For now I'll leave out the details until the arrangement is approved by their Board and by ours. I do want to talk a little bit about our project in light of the short visit we had with them this past Sunday.
Sarah Taylor is the proud mother of Army Spc. David W Taylor, 82nd Airborne, who was KIA on 03/29/12 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Lee-Ann Forsythe is a Marine mom whose son, Lance Cpl. Marc L. Plotts, an Iraq veteran, died at MCB Hawaii on 3/30/10 while training for deployment to Afghanistan. Lee-Ann is the daughter of a Marine and a Marine herself. Semper fi.
American Gold Star Mothers Website
We at MCATA, as an organization at least, we are fairly new in this "space". The space to which I refer is honoring our fallen as an organization with an effort of the scope magnitude of the VMGR Memorial Monument project. Gold Star Moms, on the other hand, they live and breathe in this space and they are giants in it, even if their humility and modesty inhibited them from coming across as better than us or anything of the sort. I was flabbergasted as Sarah accounted for a seemingly endless list of projects and programs they're involved in partnerships with or doing themselves. In describing who American Gold Star Mothers are, Sarah said something that really struck me. I am sure Rich and Johnathan were equally moved. She told us (paraphrasing) "Gold Star Moms are mothers who are ready to move on from our own grief and to make a difference for other Gold Star mothers and families who are still grieving."
And here we are, little MCATA, making a VMGR Memorial Monument a reality. Since very early on in this project it has been clear to me that the project is first, foremost, and primarily a way for us to honor our Marines for their families. It is our way to show these families that their loved one, surely one of us: family to us, friend to us, squadron mate to us, crew mate to us, liberty taker and hell raiser with us, that these Marines and their sacrifice is not and never will be forgotten. If you have any doubt that this is about these families, let me point out the obvious. This memorial, a VMGR Memorial Monument, was NOT originated by us or any other USMC entity. It's originator is Mr. Johnathan Keene. Who is he? He's the first cousin of Captain Robert Walls, who as a member of VMGR-352 was killed after QB 685 crashed at MCAS El Toro in 1970. The originator is a family member.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention MCATA Historian Alan Stinar's latest video, which also played directly into my emotions. It is an amazing piece of work that touches on the solemnity of this project, on the importance of the families of our Marines, and is something you need to watch if you haven't already. Here's a link: MCATA - Tribute to 809 and 813. If that don't move you, you haven't got a heart.
Before I wrap this blog post up, I have to tell you. Last night I saw three donations come through on our site. In my current role, I do see the back-end, inner workings of our site. The first two donations were brick purchases by family members of Marines whose names will be engraved on the memorial. Keeping in mind the context of just having talked to the Gold Star Moms and watching Alan's video, when I saw those brick forms and donations come through, I sat here at my laptop with eyes full of tears. I only hope that these families know how much they matter to us at MCATA, and that they know how much their Marines matter to us. Then, a short while later, the third, a donation from a former VMGR-352 First Mech. Her note applauded us for honoring our fallen. Her donation helped us to do just that. She referred to them as our fallen. Ours. These are our Marines. They are us.
I have known from the get go that this thing is about and for our Marines' families. Talking to American Gold Star Mothers, and hearing them express their belief in what we are doing was humbling and inspiring, motivating even. What we are doing DOES make a difference for these families,. It DOES matter to families of the fallen. It IS important work, meaningful work, worthwhile time and effort, and it IS an absolutely justifiable place to invest our dollars and our efforts.
There is more news to come about American Gold Star Mothers vis a vis the VMGR Memorial Monument. There is more work for us to do and more money to be raised to make this thing happen. Are you on board?