The Honor Bell Foundation honors all veterans
Funeral services for those who have served the country are often crowned with the endowment of military honors. While attending the funeral of a veteran, Louis Olivera came to the realization that those honors are not always bestowed upon every veteran. So he came to a decision to create something that would honor all United States veterans, the Honor Bell.
“The inspiration for the Honor Bell was I attended a funeral for a World War II veteran and at the conclusion of the ceremony there were no military honors given,” said Olivera, Executive Director of the Honor Bell Foundation. “So I thought, ‘there has got to be a better way to honor our service members’ and certainly our veterans from the greatest generation.”
With that epiphany the Honor Bell Foundation was born and with it, the desire to forge a 1,000-pound bronze instrument from the legacy of servicemen and women to be tolled at their funeral services as a final salute.
“We had the concept of putting artifacts from military veterans in the actual bell,” said Olivera.
Those artifacts didn’t come without the sacrifice of veterans and their families who donated military artifacts to the Honor Bell Foundation to be melted and cast into the bell.
“I donated two of my husband’s artifacts to the bell: his belt buckle from the Coast Guard and his dog tag from the Coast Guard,” said family artifact donor, Nancy Abbott. “I just felt that the Coast Guard with the insignia on it was something that was really special.”
The bell now resides at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver where it was recently used for the 1,000th time. Receiving the honor was Army veteran and Bronze Star recipient Elio Joseph Tasin.
The journey to Fort Logan National Cemetery and 1,000 tolls, however, was a long one that began in Cincinnati and the Verdin Company.
“It’s neat to be able to partner with the Honor Bell Foundation that has this mission to bring one of these bells to every national cemetery,” said Tim Verdin of the Verdin Company.
After receiving military artifacts dating back as far as World War II through a series of dignified transfers the process of forging the bell began.
“The metal was so hot that it basically just melted those artifacts into the molten metal, so that it makes those medals a part of the bell,” Verdin said.
Olivera added that the Honor Bell Foundation found an excellent partner in the Verdin Company.
“Working with the Verdin Company has just been an incredible experience for us,” Olivera said. “They’ve been working as partners with us all along the way and without them we would never have the success that we have now for the first honor bell.”
The Verdin Company as well, seized on an opportunity to give back to a worthy cause and to the nation’s veterans.
“These bells will be put all over the country to celebrate these lives of these soldiers that have given their life truly for our freedom that we enjoy here in the United States,” Verdin said.
The bell was unveiled on May 21, 2016, at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati before being escorted 1,192 miles to its permanent home at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver where it arrived on May 30, 2016.
“The tolling of the bell really signifies a solemn moment and each time it tolls,” Olivera said. “Each one of those tolls represents something special and something that was lost to our country and, in this case, a veteran.”
The Honor Bell Foundation is a Colorado-based nonprofit that works to properly recognize departed veterans during burial services. To learn more about the Honor Bell Foundation and to contribute to its cause visit www.honorbell.org.