America Supports You: Bracelets Honor Fallen Troops
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 19, 2005 Chris Greta launched HeroBracelets.org as a way to pay respect to fallen servicemembers and to raise funds for the families left behind.
The black aluminum "HeroBracelets" are each engraved with the name of an American servicemember who has died in the war on terrorism. The bracelets can be customized to adorn a specific name.
Greta owns a small ad agency in Austin, Texas, called The Ad Ranch. Since the company specializes in branding, advertising, marketing and design, he decided to make use of its creative talents to salute those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Greta felt that the names and memories of fallen troops should not be hidden from public view. "We saw a popular TV news program get in trouble for reading their names aloud over the air," he said. "We saw bans on showing their flag-draped coffins. We just believed that we, as a nation, owed them more respect than that."
The bracelets can be purchased online for $8.50, of which $2.00 and all after-tax profits go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The other $6.50 from each sale goes to the manufacturing cost, Web site maintenance, administrative costs and shipping, Greta said.
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund provides unrestricted grants to the families of military personnel who have lost their lives in the war on terrorism. The fund distributes gifts of $11,000 to each spouse and $5,000 more to each dependent child. These funds are intended to help families get through any immediate or long-term financial difficulties.
To date, HeroBracelets.org has donated more than $27,000 to the fund.
Since it was founded in December 2004, HeroBracelets.org has gotten as many as 200,000 hits on its Web site in a single day. As the orders grew, Greta brought in family, friends, neighbors and volunteers to help answer e-mails and ship orders.
The extra help is definitely needed because the project has expanded in scope. They already have a full Vietnam database and are working on World War I, World War II and Korean War databases, he said.
Initially, Greta was unsure how family members would receive the bracelets. "We were ready to take the whole process apart if the reaction was bad. But on the contrary, we have received literally hundreds and hundreds of e-mails thanking us for doing this," he said. "We have not had a single negative e-mail from a family member."
Nevertheless, if a family wishes to have their loved one's name removed from the bracelet, Greta said he would immediately comply.
According to Greta, many families have embraced the bracelets and have given them to others. For instance, when Diane Eggers, whose son Kyle was killed in Iraq, met with President Bush she gave him a HeroBracelet engraved with her son's name.
HeroBracelets can only be purchased online because Greta thinks the idea of selling them "over the counter" is somewhat disrespectful.
"The idea of putting these memorials on a counter next to chewing gum and beer doesn't seem right to us," he said. "How the bracelets are sold and displayed is very important, because we are talking about someone's father or mother, son or daughter, husband or wife."