I was at the Abington, MA VFW Post on December 5th, when I saw this notice on the bulletin board about Save the Sketches, a Community Heritage Project being organized by the Dyer Memorial Library (http://dyerlibrary.org/). The project was to give voice to Civil War Veteran Sketches.
This looked very interesting so I sent an email and was contacted by Merlyn Liberty the Archives Librarian. We set up a time to come down and meet, and I have to tell you it was an amazing experience. Looking at history up close and personal is very different from watching a documentary or YouTube clip. At the end of the tour, I offered my voice to support the project and can’t wait to be involved.
This project is open to any Veteran who wants to participate. You can email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (781) 878-8480 to learn more or participate.
I want to thank Merlyn for her time today, and I am looking forward to seeing these memories come alive.
Episode 105 – Richard Fitts Jr’s Family at The Wall that Heals
Richard Fitts Jr. and the Abington Color Guard
I had first met Richard Fitts Jr. when we were talking about his documentary 21 Years a Folded Flag. ( Episode 92 – 21 Years a Folded Flag ) This is a labor of love for a father he could not remember because SSgt Richard Fitts was killed in Laos during the Vietnam War. He reached out recently because he wanted me to meet the crew from the Abington VFW when the Fitts Family joined them to do the Colors Ceremony for The Wall that Heals.
One of the take aways from the film is how Abington, Massachusetts wrapped their arms around the Fitts family. I got a chance to see this in action for the ceremony. Richard, his mother Valerie and his son Austin joined the guys from the VFW for this special ceremony. I got to spend time with Richard talking about everything from Joe Satriani to bass guitar styles to aspects of parenthood. I enjoyed how Mrs. Fitts was the “den mother” for all the Abington VFW crew. It was more like a family event than anything else.
After the ceremony, Richard and his son Austin talked with me about the film. He is almost done with it. He was able to interview a General who in Richard’s view adds a lot to the project. There is a lot of movement going on with another entry into a film contest, and he is finalizing the sound.
Seeing a Gold Star family like the Fitts participate in the color guard brought a different kind feeling out in me. It shows that family in the military can mean those who haven’t served as well as those from different branches of service.
Abington VFW & Mrs Fitts – Richard Fitts Jr is on the far left
Richard Fitts Jr. invited to come watch the pre-release version of “21 Years a Folded Flag” at the Bridgewater, MA Public Library. I was pleased to see how many people came to support Richard and Rudy’s labor of love. It was standing room only by the time Richard and Rudy got up to introduce the film. They were happy and honored to see everyone.
It was clear to see that they were very proud of their work. No small amount of sacrifice and effort has gone into getting the film to this point. I feel that this a unique experience that you can’t miss if you had family members who served in the Vietnam War or want to know more about our country during that time.
As I watched this film, I was drawn into the story in Laos and here in Abington, MA. Not to give away all the good parts, but there is a scene about a third of the way into the film that stopped the room cold. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing and it set the tone for the remainder of the film. You will need to watch and see if you agree with me.
A thought occurred to me as I watched Richard Fitts Jr. recount his memories. Many times children are left out of the conversation when it comes to the grieving process. Watching Richard at all stages of his life until there is closure was a stark reminder that everyone pays a price for the life we enjoy in America today.
Keep checking back here and on Richard’s Facebook Page for more information about this project. You don’t want to miss this story about a son honoring is father’s service and his family’s sacrifice.
A big thanks to Mistress Carrie from WAAF for having Richard Fitts Jr. and Rudy Childs on to talk about this project.
I met with Richard Fitts Jr. and Rudy Childs on a cold April Sunday. Believe it or not it can get really cold and nasty during Spring in New England. We were meeting to talk about his documentary, “21 Years a Folded Flag”. Looking at the trailer got me interested in this story because I feel that Vietnam Veterans and Gold Star Family Members still get shut out compared to other wars and conflicts.
This documentary is about Richard Fitts Sr. who was a Green Beret in the Army. He lost his life in Laos on November 30th 1968 during a top secret, classified mission.
Richard was two years old at the time, and never got to know his father. Sitting there listening to him talk, I couldn’t imagine what that must have been like. It wasn’t until over 20 years later that the Fitts family got to find out what had happened to Richard Sr.
Richard wanted tell this story to keep his father’s memory alive. Rudy Childs started working on this film project and it became a labor of love. Richard and Rudy entered this film into a festival in Maryland and it almost won. They are proud of their work and I am looking forward to seeing the finished product. Check out their fundraiser (Fund my story/”green beret father”), and consider donating to help get this story told.
Check out the Sneak Preview to “21 Years a Folded Flag” on YouTube