In 1982 I designed the Vietnam Veterans Ring. A ring to be worn silently to communicate with other combat veterans on sight. The rings stand for “I know, I understand, and I care.” I know about war because I’ve been there. I understand what you might be going through, and I Care. The Vietnam Veterans ring is worn all across the world. It is worn and endorsed by General William Westmoreland, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis and it was even requested by the late great Bob Hope. These rings have been compared to a Super Bowl Ring, or a World Series Ring and I can see the comparison. Those rings promote the camaraderie of an elite group of individuals with a shared experience. The Vietnam Veterans Ring also promotes the special bond between an elite group of individuals. The difference with those types of rings and the Vietnam Veterans Ring is that war is not a game. War is about courage and sacrifice; it is about life and death. There are no time-outs and to wear this ring you must have been willing to die for your country.
I have been in war. I was a door-gunner with the 119th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam. On April 21st of 1970 my slick was shot down at a place called Dak Seang. For what happen to us on that day I was awarded a Purple Heart and a Heroism medal for Valor. On of the proudest moments I can remember wasn’t when I received the awards, but when I walked down the halls of O’Hara airport to meet my family. For you see then because of my uniform and the medals on my chest everyone knew I was a warrior. Maybe they didn’t agree with the war or the politics of it but they knew I was a soldier. I related to anyone in uniform for we had a shared experience in war. I connected with all America because of the uniform. Then I went home and the uniform came off. After the uniform came off the war was supposedly over for me but I had a story to tell. I wanted to share my experiences with someone who would understand but who could possibly understand my story about war: No one could except another veteran. But who are they? Where are they now that the uniforms are off? I couldn’t tell, no one knew and worst yet no one cared… Except for the veterans themselves.
Then came other wars and conflicts. More tales of courage, and love of country. Our fight for freedom became more complicated and global. But with every commitment we made came consequences to our veterans. Alcohol, drug abuse, suicide, and divorce rates tell us the true cost of war, but one thing remained the same: the commitment of our veterans. Douglas McArthur once said “Old soldiers never die, they simple fade away.” He was absolutely correct. Their souls and spirit lives on. The spirit I’m talking about is the karma, courage and bravery that we all share. It doesn’t matter where or when you served this great country: We are all the same. The veterans that have fought and died to keep all of us free have passed the torch from one generation to the next and with that torch went the fire, zest, and love of country that has kept us free. From years gone by from place like Shilo, to Gettysburg, and Flanders Fields where the poppies still grow. We are all the same. Were their sacrifices any different than ours? I think not. From the beaches Normandy to Ichon Korea and the jungles of Vietnam. From the jungles of Vietnam to the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Iraq: We remain strong for we must remain strong for we are the protectors and guardians of this great place we call America.
Born through continuous fighting was the American Veterans Collection. Because if I truly believe that all combat veterans are the same then I couldn’t offer only the Vietnam veterans Ring. A ring for the WWII veteran and the Korean veteran were designed. The new Patriot Ring that was presented to Toby Keith in Chicago is worn by all veterans serving overseas in our fight against terrorism. The Rings are 10k solid gold. I couldn’t offer a ring that didn’t last as long as the memories of war so each ring from the American Veterans Collection carries a limited lifetime warranty. There are many, many rings on the market that are available to our veterans but none of them connect us all on sight, none of them carry the endorsements of this collection, or offer a lifetime warranty. None of them have a distinct meaning and purpose like the American Veterans Collection. They are mostly money motivated and that’s okay, but, these rings are meant to heal and they work not only for the veterans that wear them, but to all veterans that simply see them and understand them.
These rings are not meant to carry on war with political opinions, personal comparisons, or controversial conversations. For those of you that choose to wear a ring from this collection I ask you to wear it silently with American Pride, Honor, and Integrity. Let it be your torch for all to see a symbol of the guts and moxie of the warriors that have fought beside you and who you learned to trust with your life. Let this ring be your link to the hearts of all veterans from all wars. Wear it for every tear that fell and every unanswered pray of war.