Family’s Sacrifice in the War on Terror
Today is Gold Star Mother’s Day, a day our nation proudly express’s our love, sorrow, and reverence towards Gold Star Mothers and their families. Move America Forward has had the honor to work directly with so many amazing Gold Star families over the years, we thought it would be a great time to share some of these courageous stories.
Today we bring you the story of Matthew J. Holley, a combat medic in the 101st Airborne whose parents John and Stacey Holley fought for all military families to make sure all of our fallen warriors return home with the honor and respect they deserve.
John Holley was one of the Gold Star Parents we were able to take with us to Iraq in 2006. A trip he credits with helping him honor his son and move forward in his life. We have had the pleasure of working with John and Stacey Holley ever since and are so grateful for all they have done for other military families. Please take the time to read the story below and learn about their son.
~The story of Army SPC. Matthew J. Holley~
On a cool autumn afternoon in November 2005 the world seemingly ended for John and Stacey Holley. With the ringing of the doorbell and the appearance of uniformed military strangers on the porch of their North Idaho home, their quiet lives were shattered by the news that their son and only child SPC. Matthew J. Holley had been killed along with three other soldiers by a roadside bomb while on patrol in Taji, Iraq. He was a Combat Medic with the 101st Airborne Division out of Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.
Growing up, Matthew was the child that most parents hope for; he was charismatic and talented both athletically and artistically. By the age of 18 he was a three time U.S. National Karate champion and a talented amateur artist. For most who knew him, Matthew was a person of few words, choosing instead to let his actions speak much louder. He thrived on the challenge of being the best he could be.
When Matthew made the decision to become a soldier he was following in the footsteps of four generations of family members before him, including both John and Stacey. He was driven by a few valued lessons in life that he was raised on. The first to know and respect “that to whom much is given much is expected” and second that whenever the opportunity availed itself “to take his eyes off of himself and to put them on to others.”
Etched on SPC Matthew Holley’s gravestone are the following words, “To Serve a Cause Greater Then Myself”. Profound words spoken by a profound young man to his mother and father for his reason to join the United States Army and become a Medic. Matthew’s zest for life was to apply those valued lessons handed down to him and in doing so share a little of that freedom so many in our nation take for granted, or a little of that free spirit we all have.
Like so many who feel called to serve our nation, Matthew loved the Red, White and Blue. He loved the freedom it exudes and offers anyone who lives in the United States of America. As many in our generation, most will always remember that fateful Tuesday in 2001 when the towers fell. Matthew was just one week short of his 17th birthday, but as his mother reflects back, she believes that day was as much a catalyst for his decision to serve our nation as any. It was on that day that he saw the cause for freedom and all he had been raised to believe in challenged, and he expressed that “if there was one thing worse than dying, it was being alive and not being free.”
Even in the midst of their grief, John and Stacey knew that they were not the only parents who would face such a crisis. They were not the only American family destined to hear the ringing of a doorbell, or to learn the news of a loved one’s ultimate sacrifice from the lips of complete strangers.
Unbeknownst to them John and Stacey’s sorrow would quickly turn to horror when they discovered that Matthew’s casket would return to San Diego’s Lindbergh Field as common freight.
There would be no honor guard to welcome their fallen hero back to his hometown.
Instead, Matthew Holley’s remains would be carted around by forklifts and baggage handlers, like a crate of auto parts. Determined to welcome their son home with honors befitting his sacrifice to our nation, the Holley’s embarked on a quest to challenge the law, and to begin a journey of healing that would touch the lives of Gold Star families across our nation.
In 2011 the Holley’s released their co-authored book, Medals, Flags and Memories. In the book they share the story of their struggle in the weeks and months following Matthew’s death, as they fought to enact the law known today as “The Holley Provision” or as some have come to refer to them as “Angel Flights.” John and Stacey chose not to write simply a memoir of grief and loss.
Rather their desire was to share a journal of personal transformation, a guidebook for anyone who finds themselves struggling in the storm of their lives. It’s a journey of faith, love, and ultimate perseverance. But beyond all of these things, it’s an unmistakable demonstration of the American ideal in action.
Today each fallen heroes casket is met by honor guards in white gloves and crisp uniforms, instead of baggage handlers with forklifts. The legislation, was signed into law by President George W. Bush in October 2006, and enacted by the Pentagon in January 2007.
Faced with the entrenched bureaucracy of our government, the Holley’s proved that an ordinary family can tip the scales of American justice. And, in an age where many people feel alienated and powerless, the Holley’s have shown how ordinary citizens can impact the change in federal law, and transform the world we live in.
In a sense, one world ended for John and Stacey Holley in November 2005, when Matthew died to preserve the American dream. But another world opened up, as the Holley’s discovered the power of prayer, determination and belief in the values that our great country was founded on. John and Stacey have honored Matthew’s death by reminding us that his sacrifice and the sacrifice of all those who serve our great nation is not in vain or without the honor due. That the American dream is still very much alive and well, and it is within the grasp of each citizen who dares to reach out and claim it.
Copies of Medal’s Flags and Memories can
be purchased online through www.amazon.com
Honoring the Memory of the lives lost on 9/11
September 11, 2001 – Terrorism hits home
September 11, 2012 – U.S. Consulate in Benghazi attacked by terrorists
September 11, 2001. Fifteen years cannot erase the vivid image of the Twin Towers billowing smoke against an impossibly blue New York skyline. September 11, 2001, a day that forever changed our nation. We at MAF honor the brave men, women and children who lost their lives that fateful September morning in 2001. We remember the heroics of NYPD fire and police units who responded without thought to their own safety and the incredible sacrifices of those aboard flight 93 who through their selfless sacrifice saved countless lives. Although the Twin Towers no longer grace the New York Skyline, the Pentagon remains, its beige stone facade bearing the scars of the terrorists attack.
September 11, 2012. Frantic call for help go unanswered as the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya fall under terrorist attack culminating in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, former SEALs Glen Doherty and Ty Woods along with foreign service worker Sean Smith.
Although first reported as an unorganized local protest surrounding a movie, it soon became clear this was a directed and organized strike.
MAF REMEMBERS AND HONORS THE 9/11 ANNIVERSARY
September 8, 2016 — For the fourth year in a row, MAF has been invited by John Vinson and his family to help them install a memorial flag display to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
John Vinson says that when he heard about what had happened in New York City he picked up an American flag and went to a freeway overpass and simply waved it proudly and defiantly at the enemy, for all the passing motorists to see. Those that passed by and saw him waving the colors honked and cheered and encouraged him.
John continues to fly the flag every 9/11, today he has well over 3,000 flags to fly including 2,977 flags to remember each victim of the 9/11 attacks. John has moved from the freeway overpass to a field in view of a busy street in West Sacramento. The Vinson family continue to fly the flags in defiance of those who would try to destroy our freedom.
We applaud the efforts of people like John Vinson, and the countless other patriots around the country who are flying their flags today, supporting our troops. Last year MAF put together a video showing John and his team of volunteers placing the flags in the ground.
September 2016 MAF 9/11 Memorial Shipment — We will have hundreds of packages ready to go in response to our Answer the Call 9/11: Never Forget Drive. It’s not too late to have your care package added to this very important shipment. Our nation was under fire, and our brave heroes Answered The Call to defend it. Will you Answer the Call to support them now?
Take time to honor these heroes and their sacrifices by flying your flag in remembrance of these great American heroes and consider sending out a great support package to our troops who help keep us safe today and every day!
Learn 4 Life’s “Jeans 4 A Cause” Raised $2,531.00 for Troop Care Packages!
Scott Raab, Lorna Garces (black shirt) School Counselor for Paseo Grande
Tanya Prucher (blue shirt) Learning Center Coordinator for Paseo Grande
David Petropulos – Principal for Paseo Grande, Shawn Callahan
At Move America Forward we are frequently approached by groups and organizations that are looking for a way to make a difference. We have worked with many groups helping them coordinate drives to send package to our deserving soldiers. That’s why when we were contacted by Tanya Pruche, Learning Center Coordinator for Paseo Grande High School we were happy to be awarded their “Jeans 4 a Cause Donation” for the month.
Paseo Grande High School, a Learn 4 Life public charter school, in a growing network of approximately 65 resource centers throughout California. The schools offer a variety of programs; Independent Studies, Blended online, and Career Technical Education with a focus on personalized learning because Learn 4 Life know all students need something different to motivate them and get them reinvested in their future.
Each month a Learn 4 Life charter school hosts their standing “Jeans 4 a Cause” drive. Each charter gets to choose an organization they would like to support and all employees within Learn 4 Life wear jeans and donate $3-$5 which in turn goes to a worthy organization. The money is collected and the school that hosted the event presents it to their charity.
According to Tanya Pruche, “My Principal, David Petropulos, found Move America Forward and felt it was a great way to support our troops. We raised money during one of our “Jeans for a Cause” events that crosses our entire company, from San Diego to Sacramento. Staff can wear jeans and donate to organizations chosen by the specific school site that hosts that month’s event.”
Tonya went on to say “It must be hard to be away from family and friends and hopefully organizations like this help them to know they are appreciated.”
When I spoke to Tanya about her experience visiting Move America Forward she said “It is amazing to see all the support you have from the community and what you do for our troops! It feels great knowing that even a small gesture could help make someone’s day. Our students enjoyed writing letters to the troops and we had some really good conversations about how we could support them.
Tanya went on to say her experience with MAF was “Wonderful – everyone we have met is passionate about what they do. And she took a moment to add a personal message for the troops, “Thank you for all you have done for our country.”
Want to support Move America Forward when you shop on Amazon, it’s simple: All you have to do is use the link below to select Move America Forward as the charity you would like to support and a small portion of what you buy on Amazon.com is donated. There is no extra cost to you, just extra support for our brave defenders for buying the things you normally would. It’s a WIN-WIN!
Millions of Americans already use Amazon to purchase clothes, books and movies to tech gadgets, or almost anything you can think of. Chances are, if you’ve ever bought anything on-line, you have probably used Amazon.com at least once or twice.
Now with Amazon Smile, you can support Move America Forward at no cost to you, Amazon donates .05% of your purchase TO THE TROOPS on your behalf!
Click HERE to shop for great Gifts and be sure to set MAF as your Amazon Smiles Charity!
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Happy 100th Birthday United States Marine Corps Forces Reserves
As everyone knows, the best way to celebrate a birthday is with a BIRTHDAY PARTY. Our specialty at MAF, and our favorite kind of party is a CARE PACKAGE PARTY. So why not help us throw a BIRTHDAY care package party in honor of our Marine Corps Forces Reserves 100th Birthday!
Here are some photos of what a MAF care package party looks like!
Troops tell us in their own Words what it means to get a Care Package!
Here is a real note to us from a real soldier, we though you would enjoy reading how much your support means.
“Good Morning, I would like to send you this email as a token of my appreciation! Today I was afforded the opportunity to speak with one of the many volunteers. I would like to thank you very much for your hard work and support in a world where the support of the armed forces is slowly declining. We noticed once an email contact was made and the request was understood, we would shortly receive a positive form of care. We all appreciate what you and your crew of men, women, and children have been doing for, not only us, but for everyone throughout the armed services. The items in the conversation was awesome, useful, and directly from the heart. Thank you for what your dedication, patience and candor.
Peter W. – SSGT U.S. Army”
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Calling all Troops!
Signing up to receive packages is easy!
If you are deployed or have the address of a deployed military member, you can click here for our Military Sign Up Center to sign them up to receive one of our great care packages loaded with plenty of the TLC our soldiers need to remind them that people back home support their mission.
If you prefer, just copy this link http://www.moveamericaforward.org/soldier-sign-up/ Once the soldier has registered they’ll be eligible to receive packages and messages of support from caring Americans like you.
MAF’s Monthly Smiles Club Keeps the Smiles Coming Year-Round
Want an easy way to keep those smiles coming all year long? Join the Move America Forward Monthly Smiles Club.
You can a join Monthly Smiles directly by ordering and checking the box that says “Yes, I would like to make a re-occurring gift” and selecting your frequency. Our troops really need your ongoing support, so why not join Monthly Smiles today?
If you have questions and would like more information, just fill out this form and Lisa Baron, our Director of Troop Support who oversees our Monthly Smiles Program will contact you directly.
Don’t want to commit to a package every month? We can also set up programs that send packages out for all the different holidays through the year. We have members who send out packages for Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and others who send out packages every other month or even quarterly. We’re here to help with whatever you or your company, group or organization wants to do to support the troops. There’s no obligation, and you can stop sending packages at any time.
If you have a question or would like additional information, contact Lisa Baron, our Monthly Smiles Director at LisaBaron@MoveAmericaForward.org.
Special Shout out to Corporate Sponsor Guidepost for providing much needed spiritual support to our troops during long deployments far from home and loved one!
As always, special thanks go out to our Sponsors!: