I don't have occasion to wear a suit very often. When I do, I have a choice between two lapel pins. Neither of them has any true monetary value, but both have a deep significance to me.
Attempting to put a price on either one of them is not even possible. Hopefully by the time you finish reading this, you will understand why.
One I received when I retired from the United States Marine Corps. The other was given to me by a man I didn't know and whom I've never seen since.
When the attack occurred I was in 29 Palms participating in a CAX. Almost every Marine whether they have been to one or not knows about them. And if they don't, in the span of their career, they will learn. It's so hot out there in the desert. Often a cooling mist is sprayed from over head pipes outside the PX in an effort to help people in the always long lines, get a little relief from the heat.
Word started trickling in about what had occurred in New York and the other places. Honestly, our first impression was that it was all part of the exercise. The Marine Corps is made up of people from all over the United States and yes, people from all over the world. Many of them had friends and relatives in the attack zones. I remember one Marine who had to leave immediately once we knew what was really taking place. I assumed some of his job responsibilities.
The events of that tragic day eventually led to me going to the second war of my life.
During my remaining months there I worked at the airport in Kuwait and, a little later, at the ports. We were 'retrograding' or getting all our war toys and people home. We thought it was pretty much over at that point.
The USO sponsored a USO Tour. Since I was working at the airport at that time, I was fortunate enough to meet, take pictures with, and get autographs from many performers including the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Brittany Murphy, Kidd Rock, Lee Anne Womack, Chely Wright, Rebecca Romijn Stamos, John Stamos, Duce Staley, members of the group 'Nappy Roots', and Alyssa Milano.
While I was out there like all the others trying to get a peek at the 'Stars' whom I applaud for bringing joy into the lives of those of us who were there and who continue to do so even now, an older gentlemen came up to me and shook my hand and said these simple words.
"Thank you for what you're doing!"
He then left and went on to shake more hands while I stood there and looked in mine. In my palm, he had placed a New York City Fire Department lapel pin. A woman who was also a part of the USO tour and with whom I had briefly spoken was standing next to me. I asked her, "Who was that guy?" Her answer was simply this.
"That is a man that wanted to come over and thank the US Service members in person. He lost both of his sons on 9/11. One was a New York City Police Officer. The other was a New York City Fireman."
It is possible perhaps to explain the significance of the United States Marine Corps lapel pin. “Marine” is a title that is never given; it is always earned. But there is no possible way I can explain the significance of my only other lapel pin. I can say it brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.
September 11th is a day that some of us will live with and recall just what it was we lost, for the remainder of our lives.
Not only on the anniversary of that day, but every single day that has passed since then. I know this personally because I have two suit lapel pins. And one was given to me by a man, I didn't know and whom I haven't seen since, but who I know hurts and will miss his brave sons every single day that he continues to draw breath. And I know every day since 9/11 has been hard for this stranger to me, but I know when this date rolls around, it is truly so much harder still for him, and those like him who lost so much. Nor can I really call him a stranger, because I know enough about him to know how badly he suffered and suffers still. I also know I have two lapel pins because of him, and I don't need any more of them.
Chase von, the author of "Your Chance To Hear The Last Panther Speak" has also recently had a story included in this publication featured in the 2007 American Review Literary Journal Vol. One, edited by world famous author, poet and consultant to the stars, Bryant H. McGill. Pieces of Chase's work have also been included in Songs of Hope, a compilation by Sachel.
"Your Chance To Hear The Last Panther Speak" is a collection of poetry, song lyrics, quotes and short stories that addresses many of the issues in today's world, as well as life in general. Soft and touching in some places and quite direct in others, this books impact is most aptly summed up by the collection of heart felt comments and testimonies listed on the back of the book.
Commentaries by actresses, teachers, poets and story tellers and inspirational singers, songwriters and life coaches. This book is sure to leave its mark on the world of literature and will no doubt have something in it that touches and reaches whom ever reads it, from what ever walk or station in life they may come from.
Visit Chase online at