(reenactment created to inspire others)
Last Veterans day, my husband decided that he would stand on one of our local bridges in his Dress Blue Army uniform with an American flag. He wanted to remind people about why we have a day set aside for honoring our Veterans, and help instill some unifying American pride that seems to be waning these days. He didn’t want Veteran’s day to just “go by without thought,” like it has for so many, in recent years.
What he didn’t expect was the overwhelming supportive reaction of our community. Many people started honking as he stood there on the bridge. He saluted them. A few people drove around to find him on the bridge. Some were Veterans themselves, who came to shake his hand. When they shook hands, sometimes there were no words...only tears were exchanged. It was a very tender experience for my husband, and those who witnessed it.
Some people called the local news. Reporters came to the bridge to capture the story and find out more about the man on the bridge. My husband asked that they not share his name, that it wasn’t about him…it was about honoring all who have served. He did not want to be known. The story and mystery about the man on the bridge grew and was passed from one news agency to the next. It was eventually featured on NBC nightly news with Brian Williams.
Jonathan followed some of the online articles, and read the comments from people who read the stories. He realized that his simple act had changed many, and touched them in a way that made them reflect upon their deep feelings for our nation. Many talked about driving down the freeway on their normal route to work, and when they saw him standing there on the bridge, they had an overwhelming sense of American pride. They drove on with a new reverence for our Veterans. They had forgotten that it was Veteran’s Day, and suddenly they were awakened as to what that really means.
Many who wrote in, were Veterans themselves. They wanted “the mystery man” to know that he did a good thing that day in honoring those who have served, and those who continue to serve. Some who wrote in, were Vietnam vets who did not receive a hero’s welcome when that war was over. They said that it meant a lot, and had a healing power to see someone honoring our service men the way that he did.
Then there were the sobering stories from family members and friends of lost or injured loved ones. They thanked him for honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice of life or limb. Jonathan and I both cried over these heart-wrenching stories.
Jonathan could sense in reading the comments, that there were those who wanted to know how they could help make next Veterans Day more meaningful.
Jonathan replied back anonymously to these commenters and thanked them for their support. He let them know that he was truly touched by their comments and expressed his sorrow for those who lost loved ones. News reporter, Alex Cabrero, saw his comment, and was able to contact Jonathan through his username. Alex, asked him if he would reveal himself. Jonathan was very reluctant, because he wanted to remain anonymous. Alex helped convince him that he might be able to help others by coming out of the shadows.
Jonathan pondered about it for a few days and decided that he might be able to build something good from this experience by revealing himself. He wanted to be sure that if he did come out, that the news not make it about him--he wanted it to be clear that he was only revealing himself so that he could help organize others to remember and honor our vets.
He came up with the idea of Standing Quietly.
We have many soldiers past and present in our communities. We often don’t know who they are. They are standing quietly amongst us, and go about their every day lives without people knowing what sacrifices they have made for all of us in the past or are currently making for us now. They are the ones who have risked it all to ensure our freedoms, and protect our nation. One day each year, we honor them, but most of us don’t even get the day off of work or school. My kids schools didn’t even talk about it being Veteran’s day—it’s disappointing.
It’s easy for Veteran's day to slip by just like any other day…but we can’t let that happen. Jonathan’s simple idea is to invite Veteran’s to stand together on Veteran’s Day, and build a bridge of camaraderie between community and soldier by reminding people there are soldiers amongst us who have helped, and continue to help, protect our great nation. These are good men and women, and their service should not be forgotten. He has organized Veterans, their family members, and those who want to honor these men and women to stand together on bridges up and down the 1-15 corridor (The Veteran’s Memorial Highway) here in Utah. This year, there will also be many Veteran’s and supporters who will join them in standing on various bridges across our nation.
Our little town of Lehi, Utah is hosting a special event and will be shutting down the bridge that Jonathan stood on last year. There will be 60 American flags, a flag to honor POW’s, and a flag to honor each branch of our military. There will be a flag raising ceremony, and a speaker, a static display of vintage military vehicles, food, a ride of honor from the Harley Davidson dealership to the bridge (if the weather holds up)…and of course…there will be dozens of Veteran’s standing quietly as a reminder of why we have this great nation. The local neighborhood schools and the people of our community have been invited to come meet the vets and stand with them on Veteran’s Day.
If you are a Veteran and would like to stand on a bridge to honor our Vets this Veteran's day, feel free to do so in your community. Please be sure that the bridge has a sidewalk to ensure you have a safe place to stand. Bring a flag if you wish, and show your American pride.
To learn what you can do in your community visit standingquietly.com
Lehi Event details...
When: Veteran's Day November 11th
Location: N 500E Street bridge in Lehi Utah*
*Please note, if you use this bridge to travel to school or work in the mornings, it will be closed to traffic on Wednesday November 11th, at 7:00am. The bridge is scheduled to reopen between 11:00 and 12:00 pending upon event clean-up. School bus routes will be altered that morning. Suggested detours are: The Main street underpass; 100 E underpass, or the 300 West underpass.
Who: Everyone is invited. If you are a Veteran, we welcome you to dress in your uniform.
- Flag raising ceremony 8:30am (after motorcycles arrive.)
- Speaker following flag raising
- Static display of both current and vintage military vehicles
- Standing on the bridge to honor our Veterans
- Free food (while it lasts) for our Veterans, smoked pork sandwiches sponsored by Lehi's own BBQ Pitstop and a variety of sandwiches generously donated by Which Wich.
- Mingling with Veterans and families sharing experiences and building community spirit and American pride.
Coming from South Lehi?
The parking lot of the LDS Church on the corner of 500 E and 300 N (adjacent to Lehi High School) has been reserved for this event. If you are unable to walk the short distance to the bridge, we will have a golf cart that can ferry you up to the bridge from this parking lot.
Coming from North Lehi?
The parking lot of the LDS Church on the corner of 700E 9200N has been reserved for this event. There will not be a golf cart at this location. If you need assistance, please use the 500E 300N parking lot.
We will have some chairs available for those who need to sit during the event. Toilet facilities will also be available.
Motorcycle ride information:
This part of the event is pending on weather. We are crossing our fingers that the sun will be shining. If snowing or the weather is simply too cold, this part of the event will not be held. Plan on meeting at the Harley Davidson Dealership in Lindon on the morning of November 11th at 7:30am. The dealership will be opening early so you can hang out inside. Riders will line up at 8:00 and depart at 8:15. The ride is a short distance of 8 miles and will take approximately 15 minutes. Veterans and others who want to honor our Vets are welcome to join us in this event.
Thank You to our Supporters and Sponsors and volunteers for making this event possible!