Some of the income I earn from the sale of Nice Bike will be donated in my father’s memory to Veterans causes.
In 2010, we've decided to contribute to the Fisher House Foundation, which provides a "home away from home" for military families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.
Please feel free to make a direct contribution to some worthy and tireless Veterans' groups yourself through the links below. And thank you.
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
Disabled American Veterans
[Excerpted from the book Nice Bike, by Mark Scharenbroich. ©2010, Echo Bay Publishing. reprinted with permission.]
In 1984, I invited my dad to take a
trip with me to Washington, D.C. I was giving a big speech.
In fact, I was sharing a stage with First Lady Nancy Reagan.
Well, she spoke the day before me, but it was the same stage!
I begged my mother, “Please, Mom, make the trip with us.”
But she couldn’t be persuaded. “No, Mark, I just don’t
want to go. Take your father, and do me a favor.”
It was a great trip. My dad enjoyed my presentation, and
we toured the city together. The last monument we planned
to visit was the Lincoln Memorial. We ended up there late in
the evening. Other than Abraham Lincoln, it was just my
father and myself standing there that night. It was a very
powerful moment when we sensed the greatness that this
country was built on.
We left the Lincoln Memorial around 11:00 p.m. and took
a left along the Mall. In just a short time, we came upon the
Vietnam Memorial. It had only been there for a few years at that
time. The first thing that came to my mind was the number 256.
That was my lottery draft number from the Vietnam War.
A lot of men volunteered to serve, and a lot of men were
drafted to serve. 58,178 names are engraved in polished black
granite on the Vietnam Memorial. The first American soldier
killed in the Vietnam War was Air Force T-Sgt. Richard B.
Fitzgibbon Jr., and the last was Kelton Rena Turner, an eighteen-year-
old Marine. He was killed in action on May 15, 1975, two
weeks after the evacuation of Saigon.
With the exception of the return of our prisoners of war,
those who came home from their service in Vietnam weren’t
welcomed home with parades. Unlike the WWII returning
soldiers, there were no cheering crowds of people or banners
hung throughout their towns. When I ask Vietnam veterans
to tell me about the toughest part of the war, many of
them say, “coming home.”
As my dad and I were walking along the memorial, we
noticed two Vietnam vets standing close to the wall. They
were wearing their Army jackets and silently staring at the
engravings of the names of their fellow soldiers. My dad
slowly walked over to the two men and said, “Excuse me.
Were you fellows over there . . . Vietnam?”
“Yeah. Yeah, we were,” said one of the men.
After a long pause, my dad said, “Thank you, fellows.
“Sir, you are the very first person who has ever said thank
you to me for serving my country. That means a lot, man.” At that point, the Vietnam vet moved closer to my dad
and gave him a big bear hug. Then, the other Vietnam vet
did the same. My dad was not known as a hugger, but he
gave a big hug back to each man. I noticed tears in the eyes
of the Vietnam veterans and in the eyes of the WWII veteran — my father. That was the first and last time I ever saw
tears in my father’s eyes.
Dad acknowledged the Vietnam vets, honored their
service, and connected with them on a very personal level.
It’s a moment I will always cherish. I didn’t know it at the
time, but it was the ultimate Nice Bike.
Acknowledge, honor, connect, and you will change the
world, one person at a time.
NICE BIKE, Dad.