Bell of Honor committee members pose at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
By Ruth Hanson
The Bell of Honor (BOH) Committee was formed in December of 2010, shortly after the bell was purchased by Terry and Jan Throndson of Rochester.
The murals on the side of the trailer picture active military and veterans. The mural on the bus pictures police, firefighters, and EMT's along with Kasson's police department K-9 unit-Liberty, a canine, with Josh, his handler. The trailer flies the United States Flag, POW Flag along with Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine flags when present at funerals or ceremonies.
The Bell of Honor is tolled as a sign of respect and honor for fallen heroes who have given their all - active military, veterans, police, firefighters and emergency medical staff who have made the ultimate sacrifice so the rest of us can exist in peace and safety.
The bell tolls seven times as part of the ceremony, to honor those who have responded, served, protected, defended, sacrificed and suffered. The seventh and final toll signifies the loss of life. The Bell of Honor signifies Voice of a Grateful Nation wishing to celebrate, sanctify and remember the special life passed from our sight, but never forgotten in our hearts.
The Bell of Honor committee has been asked to attend funerals as well as other celebrations over the past year and a half but one of the most memorable is being part of the celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, commonly called The Wall, in Washington, D.C. from November 7 - 11 in 2012.
"It was a great honor to be asked to go," local Dodge Center resident Bonnie Adams, said, "We are all very dedicated to honoring and supporting military and emergency services. We are very serious about our mission to honor the fallen."
The Bell of Honor was asked to attend the thirtieth anniversary and ring the bell at the closing of each day's activities. The reading of the names began at 3:30 p.m. on November 7 and continued till shortly after midnight on November 11. The reading continued from 5 a.m. till a few minutes after midnight for four days. Veterans, volunteers and the public were greatly moved by the tolling of the bell and playing of taps at the end of the nightly reading of the names.
All 78,272 names engraved on The Wall were read and the reading took 65 hours and was read by 1,000 volunteers. "It was only the third time that all the names have been read," said Committee Chair Jan Throndson. BOH Committee members were honored to be asked to participate in the reading of the names and stated that they will never forget their experience.
One interesting note committee members recalled as they drove along the busy roads of D.C. they received several e-mails from drivers who were so impressed with the overall design of the bus and trailer they looked up our website. They inquired as to why we were in Washington, D.C. and where could they buy our challenge coins.
The committee worked as a group that raised money all summer to make the trip. They sold challenge coins and sponsored a golf tournament at the Dodge Center golf course.
The Bell of Honor committee members laid three wreaths to honor the fallen. They traveled to Shanksville, PA to lay a wreath in a "presentation for the fallen" where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on September 11. Another wreath was laid at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the third was laid at the Pentagon, where another plane crashed on 9/11.
Committee members also mentioned three other special invitations extended this year:
Gold Star Families Memorial Service at Camp Ripley on May 27, 2012, being present at the funeral of 21 military men and women whose ashes were never claimed and were interred on June 29, 2012 at the National Cemetery in Des Moines and being asked by the Governor of Iowa to be part of his Governors' Parade for Veterans in Des Moines, Iowa on June 30, 2012.
The Bell of Honor Committee would like to extend a special thank you to our sponsors McNeilus Steel of Dodge Center, Aluma of Bancroft, Iowa, and Midwest Signtech of Rochester, Minnesota for helping us with our trip to the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The three wreaths were donated by Evergreen Industries in Minneapolis. The ribbons on them were donated by Forget Me Not Florists in Kasson.
They will be in Alexandria, Minnesota, on Memorial Day 2013.
All members of the Bell of Honor Committee are volunteers. They use donations to cover their expenses. Donations are tax deductible and are approved as an IRS 501(c)(3).
More information about the Bell of Honor is available on their website: www.thebellofhonor.org or by E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org