Thursday, May 24, 2007

Memorial Day Pt 1

I had posted this on a web site a few years ago. Since Memorial Day is this weekend
I wanted to "re-post" in blog land with the hope that a few other people might see it.

This is Part 1 (don't worry neither is too long) I edited a little bit on some "tense" (past/present) but the dates you see were the actual dates.

The Story of the "bracelet"

One of the longest commitments in my life had and has been to a bracelet. Yes, of all things a slab of metal strapped around my wrist. The bracelet is a POW Bracelet that I got initially because I thought it would be "cool". 12 years later I actually got to take it off, for very good reason.

POW Bracelets were worn by family and friends of War Veterans either MIA or, never had their bodies recovered. It was a testament to the spirit to get the hero's and family members home.

I put the bracelet on the evening of a friend of my family's wedding after another friend returned from Washington D.C. with a bracelet he got at the Vietnam War Memorial. The bracelet simply read:

SSGT Elbert W. Bush
USA 01-08-73 SVN

On one end it read MS and the other had the POW logo

I put it on and that was that. Over the years I got the "is that a medic alert bracelet" or is that an "id bracelet". The most interesting thing is that I had the bracelet on for years and I would go weeks with nobody asking me about it, then in the course of one week I'd have 3 people ask me. After telling them it was "something to do" most people commended me for my efforts but nothing prepared me for a day at the post office.

I was at the counter and the gentleman helping stopped, looked and asked "May I ask if that is a POW Bracelet"? I answered him yes and we began to chat. The key thing is I have no association at all with the Bush family it was a random name on a bracelet at first. The man was very happy to see someone "not forgetting". It seems he was in the Vietnam War and was very moved that I made the effort to not forget. It was a simple exchange of words but this came about 10 years into wearing it on a daily basis, only removing it for a brief moment now and again for a backside cleaning.

One day I searched the web to see if he was ever "found" or brought home. Finally he was home. Identified only by a few teeth Elbert Wayne Bush was "home".

At this time I felt it was "okay to remove the bracelet". I wasn't sure what to do next. Do I send it to the family, what do I do. Sometimes the web can provide good information and I found a site called POW Network that answered all my questions. The best option for me was to place the bracelet at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC. Elbert W.Bush was removed from my wrist officially on June 25, 2002.

A lifelong friend of mine, who at the time was working for the US Army in the D.C. area was contacted and I asked him if he could place the bracelet at the wall for me. He was honored to take up the task.

The same day a new bracelet was "purchased" (i.e., donation to the veterans) and the process will start all over again. The same day (June 25, 2002) that Mr. Bush was removed

USAF 06-17-66 SVN/ON

was placed on my wrist. And so the saga will continue.

The bracelet was placed at the Wall and my friend took some pictures.

Photo One is the entrance to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C.

Photo Two is Elbert W. Bush on the wall

Photo Three is the bracelet at the wall and it was placed directly behind the wreath that President Bush laid out for Veterans Day.

It now almost seems cliché when you hear "thank a veteran" but in these times I realize what it is they do for our country and I would like to say "thank you".

To get a bracelet you can go to any Army/Navy Store, the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. or on line Pow

Some links:
To order your own bracelet: Pow
Mr. Bush's Biography: here
another w/a picture : here
To "adopt" a Veteran : click here

Part Two Tomorrow - A family responds.


At Thursday, May 24, 2007 10:49:00 AM , Blogger Dim said...

Absolutely amazing. One of the best posts I've ever read on any blog. Looking forward to part 2.

- D.

At Thursday, May 24, 2007 10:58:00 AM , Blogger Jocular Schlemiel said...

I agree

At Thursday, May 24, 2007 2:52:00 PM , Blogger Jenny G said...

That's a nice post, March!

At Wednesday, May 30, 2007 12:08:00 PM , Anonymous Dave Bush said...

Elbert W. Bush was my father, just stumbled across your blog today. Thanks for the awsome post.

At Thursday, June 07, 2007 11:42:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that story sounds quite similar to mine. I put my bracelet on about April 1990, a Viet Nam Vet came to our school to speak, and he gave me a bracelet. I wore it until about 2002, also. I really don't know why I took mine off--I think it just kept catching on things, and interfering with my work. But I guess as for the timing, it kind of worked out. Shortly after his remains had been returned 'home', I read about it online. I didn't know how to feel. I somehow felt connected to this man that I never knew. It was a strange feeling of elation. After reading this, I think maybe I need to do as you did, and start over again too. I've been thinking alot lately about wearing it, and feel guilty about not having it on. I will have to get another one. Though, I don't think I could part with my Elbert W. Bush bracelet.

At Thursday, January 17, 2008 6:42:00 PM , Anonymous TwinsChoice said...

I wore a POW bracelet for many years when my husband and I were first married in 1977. When we moved out west during one of our own Air Force tours, the bracelet somehow got packed in a box and lost until today. I was getting some things ready for a yardsale this weekend and gasped when I saw the bracelet--lost but not forgotten--in the corner of a box. Seeing as the Internet wasn't around when I wore my bracelet, I never thought about being able to find out more about this stranger I've thought about...this soldier I've prayed for...the family he left behind. Today, I typed in my veteran's name...and read your blog. His name is S/Sgt Oley N. Adams, USAF.

At Friday, January 18, 2008 4:53:00 PM , Blogger March to the Sea said...

twins - awesome of you to leave a note. Its funny to see this portion of the blog get hits now and again.

Thanks to the men and women of ALL wars/combat situations/armed services!

At Tuesday, April 17, 2012 11:09:00 AM , Blogger David Brundage said...

I don't know what made me decide to do a search today for Elbert W. Bush. Like you, it is the name of a person I never met, but was an important part of my life. In 1985, I was a junior at the University of Southern Mississippi and a cadet in the Army ROTC program. We sponsored a fund raiser - selling the bracelets to raise money and awareness of the POW-MIA issue. I bought one myself, picking out SSG Bush's because he was from my home state of Mississippi. I was commissioned into the Army in 1986 and spent the next 11 years serving on active duty, then 6 more in the Pennsylvania National Guard. Throughout that time, the name Elbert W. Bush was always on my wrist. Like you I had numerous experiences of people mistaking the bracelet for a medic alert one (mine was red, though I know they were also made in silver). I continued to wear the bracelt until 2002 when during another random internet search, I discovered that SSG Bush's remains had been returned home and positively identified. In 2005, during a visit to Washington DC, I placed mine at the Wall as well.
Thank you for the blog post and allowing me to share my memories.
David Brundage

At Wednesday, April 18, 2012 12:19:00 PM , Blogger March to the Sea said...

Hi David.
Thanks for stopping over and posting your comment/story. It is always a little bit of a thrill to see that my blog pops up when searching Mr.Bush.

Thanks for reading and thank you for your service as well. Hope you had a nice reflection while reading.



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