additional Volunteer Spotlights
On November 12, 2004, Secretary
of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi unveiled a city-size
bus at 11 a.m. before went on a year-long "tour of duty" in
Orlando, Fla. The painted bus was sponsored by LYNX bus system
of Central Florida and ran as a public service to raise
awareness about the Veterans History Project.
Designing the LYNX Bus
by Leanne Thomas, Senior Art Director, LYNX, Orlando, Florida
that amazing woman who created
the vietnam veteran's wall in washington d.c.
is on tv
and she says she put the
names up in order of when they died, what year
and the camera pans to include
"James E. Thomas"
just one initial off from
my own dad who was there
the first year of my life
and came home
we've cried about it
thinking how much we missed
that first year of his first kid
we didn't miss
that could be me,
putting my fingers on a name
The Thomas family at the
LYNX bus unveiling.
I wrote that several years before Debbe King walked around the
corner of my office one day and asked me to start thinking about a design
for the 2004 veterans' bus featuring the Veterans' History
I told her I knew I had a medal from my own Dad at home, some
ribbons, and a patch or two, and, somewhere, a photograph. She "encouraged" me to bring these items in (sort of like you "encourage" a
nail to go into the wall by hammering it in…) At any rate, I finally found
my Dad's ribbons, the patch he and his fellow medics designed and had
produced in Saigon, and a photograph that shows him grinning in a crewcut.
We soon hatched a plan to surprise my Dad at the bus unveiling.
Since they live nearby, I called my Mom and asked her if she thought
Dad would be okay with having his face and ribbons rolling all over
town. She thought he would be proud, and so I told her the date and
time of the unveiling and to please keep the fact that Dad was going
to be on the bus a secret.
As Debbe collected the photographs and memorabilia from other
veterans with ties to Central Florida, I scanned in my Dad's
items, found out the exact purple color the Library of Congress
was using on all
of it's print materials concerning the Veterans' History
Project, and began to design the bus.
I'd managed to keep my mouth shut about this for about
two months, a feat many who know me will not believe. The day before the unveiling I was on the phone with my Mom.She told me they were going to Tampa for a doctor's appointment
the next day - the day of the unveiling! "What!" I said, "that's
the UNVEILING!" So she tried to get my Dad to reschedule his
appointment without telling him why, just that I really wanted him to be
there. When he wouldn't do it, I got on the phone with him. "Do
I have to tell you why I want you to be there so bad?" "Yes," he
said. "Because you're ON the bus, you're in the speaking notes about the bus, and you're going to help UNVEIL the bus! - Surprise!" Not quite the
surprise I'd hoped for, but so it goes.
Attending the bus unveiling together - I even took my daughter
out of school to witness her Papa's moment of fame - we shed a
few tears together again. It was a pleasure to meet Peter Bartis from the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, who spoke
to those of us who gathered to honor the stories of all those who have sacrificed for our country and for us.
I am grateful for the opportunity I had to design this bus. I
hope many people will remember and tell stories to each other, stories
that connect us. I will be interviewing my Dad soon for the Veterans' History
Project. I've got a new video tape, and a fresh box of