Tag Archive: Fallen Heroes Project

Veterans Day at the Plaza 

Veterans Day at the Plaza
Piper Kyle Gaul

More than 75 veterans, their families and community members filled Edmonds Veterans Plaza Friday morning to honor and give thanks to those who have served in the military and to the military families who support them and sacrifice with them. 

After welcoming remarks from Carl Kurfess, Commander of VFW Post 8870 and the invocation by Post Chaplain Dan Doyle, Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson delivered introductory remarks. 

“You carry the weight many cannot bear,” he began, addressing veterans and their families. “It is a constant reminder that what we have today came with a price that includes not only serving in far-flung locations, often in harm’s way, but the days and nights away from family, missing holidays, children’s’ birthdays and more.” 

Concluding with a quotation from Gen. Douglas MacArthur on the meaning of the words duty, honor and country, Nelson stressed that these are not just words that are said, but for veterans it is the words they live. 

Keynote speaker Michael Reagan, founder of the Fallen Heroes Project, then spoke of the things that tie veterans together. 

“All veterans have one thing in common,” he began, “– memories. Each of us who have served walks a different path. Some were wonderful, allowing us to experience different cultures and people. Others were not pretty or nice, and some of these left scars we don’t like to talk about. 

“If you’re not telling your stories and you need to, call me,” he concluded. “I don’t celebrate Veterans Day one day a year — it’s every day for me. When someone dies for me, it’s the greatest gift anyone can give me.” 

The second keynote speaker was Mike Schindler, founder and CEO of Operation Military Family

“I had a prepared speech today, but I’m not going to give it,” he began. “Instead, I want to tell you about a message I received this morning from my daughter, telling me how proud she is of me and my service to our country. It really choked me up. For me, this was a great reminder that because of all who have served and the sacrifices they have made, my daughter is today able to live her passion and pursue a career in medicine. 

“I served not for political reasons,” he concluded, “but because I love this country. I don’t believe God put us here to be small — we are here for a reason. Now go out there and do something amazing!” 

Photos & portions of the article courtesy Larry Vogel, MyEdmondsNews.com 

Fallen Heroes Project

Fallen Heroes Project

An excerpt of some thoughts by Mike Reagan 

This morning I finished my love letter to Fallen Canine Hero Apollo. He died in this war June 5, 2013. Please Never Forget. 

I believe that while I work with the fallen I bring them back for a period of time as I draw. I try to listen to them, even the animals. 

A Gold Star family once asked me why I wanted to linger in all of your grief. I answered I wasn’t, I am spending time in your love. If you were to take any of my posts, like Apollo and follow up on the image you would find a fantastic story, sometimes sad, but a nonetheless fantastic story about a Hero. I live in these more then 6000 stories and have for 15 years. While its impossible for me to explain how I feel love for every single fallen hero I draw, the families see it in the result. 

Life has 2 realities. The one most of us understand, where we can see, hear, smell and touch it. and the one that we need to learn to just believe, where we can’t do any of those above things. That ability takes trauma to achieve. You learn to believe because you have to, to hold on to whatever you lost that you loved the most. Once I draw a portrait of the fallen they become a part of me. I am a part of a lot of wonderful individuals and animals, who I believe died for me. Never Forget. 

Mike Reagan Honors Polish Soldiers

Mike Reagan Honors Polish Soldiers

In a recent ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, government officials unveiled the portraits of 66 Polish Special Forces soldiers who had been killed in the Global War on Terrorism. The soldiers were killed while working with American Special Forces. Twenty two soldiers were killed in Iraq, and the remaining number died in Afghanistan. The portraits were drawn by Post member Mike Reagan, which he donated to the Polish government. The portrait presentation was the highlight of a ceremony that established a National Remembrance Day of Fallen Veterans. The framed portraits will remain on permanent display in the newly established Polish Veterans Museum.

In 2003, Mike established the Fallen Heroes Project, and since then, he has drawn more than 4400 portraits for the families who have lost loved ones in our nations’ Global War on Terrorism. Thanks to Mike’s compassion, he has brought untold comfort to the members of our nation’s Gold Star families. Mike has also honored the memory of deceased members of our Post by presenting portraits of them to family members.

Post Member Michael Reagan Receives Well Deserved National Recognition

By Fred M. Apgar

Post Member Michael Reagan Receives Well Deserved National RecognitionAt a recent ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery, Michael Reagan, an active and loyal member of our Post, was awarded the Citizens Before Self Honor Medal. Referred to as the Civilian Medal of Honor, this prestigious medal was awarded to Michael by the Medal of Honor Foundation, an organization comprised of recipients of our nation’s highest military medal, the Congressional Medal of Honor (MOH). This recognition is one of the highest and most prestigious awards that is bestowed on private citizens.

The Medal of Honor Foundation was founded in 1999 for the purpose of perpetuating the legacy of the MOH through outreach and educational programs. The program to honor private citizens was created to recognize those ordinary Americans from across the country who perform extraordinary acts of courage or through a continued commitment to service by placing the needs of others first. Post Member Michael Reagan Receives Well Deserved National RecognitionMichael was selected as a 2015 honoree “for his service in founding the non-profit Fallen Heroes Project, which provides hand-drawn portraits to the families of all servicemen and women who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

Michael is a Seattle native, and following his high school graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Following a combat tour of duty in Vietnam, he attended art school. He worked as a graphic arts designer for the Seattle Public Schools, which led to a position at the University of Washington, an affiliation that remains today. Michael is a portrait artist, and during his 40 year career, he has drawn over 10,000 portraits of celebrities, professional athletes, U.S. Presidents, as well as other heads of state. Early in his career, Michael made the decision to use his skill and reputation as a much sought after portrait artist to perform charitable work for a wide range of benevolent organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Children’s Hospital, the Humane Society, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. To date, his signed celebrity portraits have raised over $10 million for these deserving organizations.

Post Member Michael Reagan Receives Well Deserved National Recognition

Mike appears with this year’s class of recipients, fourth row up, fourth from right.

Memory of Past Commander Dennis Gaasland Honored

Memory of Past Commander Dennis Gaasland Honored

At the age of 17 and with the permission of his parents, Dennis Gaasland joined the Navy to serve his nation during WW II. Trained as a radar operator, Dennis also served in a combat amphibious unit. While serving in the Pacific, Dennis was sent to the Solomon Islands, New Hebrides Islands, Guadalcanal, and the Russel Islands before his convoy participated in the landing at the Gulf of Leyte in the Philippines. Following the war, Dennis married his childhood sweetheart, Helen, and graduated from UW with a degree in Business Administration. He was a successful businessman, working with several Seattle law firms. Dennis served at Post #8870 Commander from 1992-1994 and again from 1995-1996. He passed away in March 2015.

At the July meeting, Post member Mike Reagan honored the memory of Dennis by presenting a portrait of a young Dennis in his Navy uniform to his wife of more than 67 years, Helen. Also in attendance was her son, Greg. Mike, of course, is the founder of the Fallen Heroes Project, and to date, he has drawn portraits of over 4000 American veterans who have lost their lives while in service to our great nation. In his remarks, Mike assured Mrs. Gaasland that the Post would, “always remember one of our own”.

WWII Veterans Recognized with Plaques for Service

WWII Veterans Recognized with Plaques for Service

Rodney Lam, Buck Weaver, Jim Harkness, Norm Goldstein, and Amos Chapman. Not shown Fred Die-trich and Dan White.

Mike Reagan donated these plaques for service to our WWII veterans. Unfortunately, Fred Dietrich and Dan White couldn’t attend the meeting and will get theirs at a later meeting. There plaques are carved by an individual in Port Angeles, as I recall, and Mike was presented one after he spoke on his Fallen Heroes Project. Mike then generously donated sufficient funds to insure that each of our WWII veterans were honored with a Plaque. The picture doesn’t do justice to the craftsmanship.

Mike Reagan Honors Memory of Past Post Commander Duane Pounds

Mike Reagan Honors Memory of Past Post Commander Duane Pounds

At our March meeting, the Post charter was draped to honor the memory of Duane Pounds. During his many years as a member of Post #8870, Duane had served as Commander for five years and played a crucial role in keeping the Post active and successfully recruiting new members who, eventually, assumed leadership roles. Duane died on February 19 due to complications from a stroke. Julie, his wife of 66 years, had passed away last July, and Duane never fully recovered from her loss. Duane had also been an active member of many other community organizations such as American Legion Post #66, Nile Shrine Temple, Lakeside Masonic Lodge, and many others. In honor of Duane’s many contributions to our Post, Mike Reagan presented a portrait of Duane to his family. Accepting the portrait on behalf of the Pounds family was Duane’s daughter, Randi, her daughter Kelly, and three of Duane’s great grandchildren. Mike, of course, founded the Fallen Heroes Project, and over the years, he has drawn portraits of over 4,000 soldiers who have been killed during our nation’s war on terrorism. Julie and Duane had five children, 10 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren.

Where Does Our Relief Funds Go?

We raise a lot of money handing out Buddy Poppies. How do we spend it? Not a single penny goes to the Post or to overhead. Here’s this year’s budget:

Service Officer – $2,500
Special Olympics – $ 500
Scholarships – $4,000
Fallen Heroes Project – $2,250
Youth Programs – $1,000
Fisher Houses – $2,000
Teacher of the Year – $ 500
Santa’s Castle– JBLM – $1,000
Student Essays – $ 750
Chaplains’ Offices – $1,500
Veterans Homes – $2,000
Semper Fi Fund – $ 500
National Home for Children – $1,000
Wounded Warriors – $ 500
National Military Services – $1,000
CRISTA Camps – $1,000
USO – $1000
NW Battle Buddies – $ 500
Rainier Therapeutic Riding – $ 500
Wreaths Across America – $ 500
Misc./Contingency – $1,200