On March 24, relatives of a dozen deceased veterans donated family treasures like medals and dog tags that will be melted down to become part of an honor bell, which will toll during burials at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
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On March 24, relatives of a dozen deceased veterans donated family treasures like medals and dog tags that will be melted down to become part of an honor bell, which will toll during burials at Fort Logan National Cemetery.For example, relative of Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Julian Dracon of Centennial donated his Navy Service Medal, relatives of Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Falkel of Highlands Ranch donated his combat infantry badge and his Special Forces unit crest, and relatives of Army Tech. Sgt. Martin Tanne donated his Purple Heart Medal.“This is absolutely wonderful and I am honored to one of those being invited to contribute an item to be cast as part of the bell,” Sharon Melcher said as she watched the ceremony. “This bell will be a great tribute to all veterans.”Melcher, an Arapahoe County resident, contributed a button from the dress uniform of her late husband, Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Melcher.The honor bell will eventually be placed at Fort Logan National Cemetery and will toll when a veteran is buried. Until that happens, the bell will be on the mobile platform vehicle and will take part in events and ceremonies honoring veterans and their service.“The Honor Bell Foundation was created in 2014 with the goal of having the bell cast and used to toll in honor of veterans and their service to our country,” said Michelle Mallin, foundation chief of staff.The event was held at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and featured a number of speakers that included Louis Olivera, foundation director.He explained the 1,000-pound, three-foot-diameter musical instrument will be cast at the Verdin Foundry in Cincinnati.“All of the metal used to cast the bell will be pure bronze except for the family treasures that will be dropped into the molten metal as the casting is made,” he said. “The bell will be rung on occasions to honor and respect veterans for their service.”He said plans are for volunteers to staff the foundation's outreach programs.“We will have veterans volunteering their time to ring the bell marking a veteran's funeral. We could need a lot of volunteers for that program since there are 17 funerals a day, Monday through Friday, at Fort Logan National Cemetery,” he said. “We also will organize veterans to speak at schools about patriotism and their experiences.”A replica of the honor bell was on display and it was used to demonstrate how, once it has been cast and returned to Colorado, it will toll for deceased veterans.With members of the honor guard assisting, the bell was rung slowly seven times in respect and to honor a deceased veteran.Joe Gunderson, a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1 honor guard, said he was proud to be a member of the Honor Bell Honor Guard.“The bell is an incredible idea,” the Highlands Ranch resident said. “Including the donated items from deceased veterans make the bell even more special. I hope that once other states see what Colorado is doing, more states will have bells cast and rung to honor deceased veterans.”Plans are for the honor bell to be cast May 2, cleaned, polished and tuned before it is transported back to the Denver area in the special vehicle. The foundation plans call for the bell to officially toll publicly for the first time at the May 30 Memorial Day ceremonies at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
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