- Last Updated on 04:59 PM 03/25/10
- BY Nicole Fisher/Capital News Service
RICHMOND — Virginia has a new state symbol – the “Honor and Remember Flag,” which commemorates members of the U.S. armed forces who died in the line of duty.
Created by George Lutz of Chesapeake, the flag was adopted by the General Assembly during its recently completed session. Virginia is the first state to officially adopt the flag as a state symbol. Lutz hopes other states will follow suit.
“This is a very important step toward bringing awareness to the country about our national effort to publicly recognize the men and women who gave their lives in military service to our country,” said Lutz, whose son was killed in Iraq.
“America does not currently have a tangible national symbol that is specifically dedicated to express respect and gratitude for the lives lost in defense of our freedoms. The ‘Honor and Remember Flag’ fills that void.”
Virginia legislators designated the flag as a formal state symbol by approving House Joint Resolution 137, introduced by Delegate John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake. It passed unanimously in the House and on a voice vote in the Senate.
“I’m proud to have played a role in recognizing our fallen military men and women,” Cosgrove said. “I hope that other states will follow our lead in such a worthwhile and noble statement.”
Virginians will slowly start seeing the flag appearing in the commonwealth. Currently, the flag is available only at www.honorandremember.org, the Web site for Lutz’s nonprofit organization. However, he hopes the flag will be available at retail stores in the future.
Eventually, state buildings will fly the flag as well, but Lutz said that may take time because of Virginia’s budget problems.
The flag features blue and gold stars set on a red field. The blue signifies military service; the gold means the soldier wasn’t coming home. A folded flag underneath the stars represents a life lost, and the flames above are a reminder that the memory of the fallen soldier will live on.
Lutz’s 25-year-old son, Army Cpl. George “Tony” Lutz II, was killed by a sniper in Iraq in 2005.
Lutz started a national movement to establish the flag as the country’s official symbol of remembrance for all members of the U.S. military who have died while serving. He wants the flag to be presented to families of fallen soldiers, so it can be displayed in memoriam.
The U.S. Congress is considering making the “Honor and Remember Flag” a national symbol. Lutz hopes that will happen. In the meantime, he is urging each state to adopt the flag, as Virginia did.
“This is just the beginning of a nationwide campaign to get all the other states to adopt the flag as well,” Lutz said.
He is planning a trip to raise awareness about the flag in every state. Lutz is calling his mission “Honor and Remember Across America.”
Several states are considering legislation to adopt the flag. Lutz said they include Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
Lutz plans to leave Virginia in early June and spend the next 23 weeks traveling to state capitals. He hopes to head north to Maine, then west across the northern U.S., reaching Sacramento, Calif., by early September.
From there, Lutz would head south through California and then east across the southern half of the U.S., arriving at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. His trip would total 22,000 miles.
Along the way, Lutz plans to talk to public officials, give presentations about the flag and visit the families of soldiers who died in service to America.
Lutz is seeking support for his trip. For instance, he needs volunteers to help secure appointments with state and local officials, arrange meetings with veterans groups and help with personalized flag presentations.
For more information and to view a map depicting Lutz’s trip, visit www.honorandremember.org/trip.php.