To ensure veterans were honored rather than forgotten, Duane Bratvold of Lake Tapps, Washington, built what he calls the “Veterans Chair.” To date, the chair holds the names of over 500 service members. And with more added regularly, this beautiful tradition is certainly going strong!
Duane Bratvold has an incredible heart for his country. And he knows the freedoms he enjoys within the land he loves are thanks to the sacrifices made by so many brave service members.
But the hustle and bustle of everyday life pulls our focus in so many different directions. And Duane found himself wanting to make sure veterans were being honored for their service and dedication.
“I feel bad our Veterans are getting forgotten,” he told God Updates in an email.
And upon hearing about the passing of a local veteran, Duane came up with a wonderful idea — the “Veterans Chair.”
Duane Bratvold began building a chair for his home on Lake Tapps back in 2020 during the COVID-19 quarantine. However, he ended up losing interest and abandoning the project.
That is until he heard about the death of Loren Kissick, a local veteran.
Veterans Chair Goes Viral
Duane resumed work on the chair, painting it in the patriotic stars and stripes of the American flag. And once he finished, he wrote Loren Kissick’s name on the back of the chair, followed by "American Hero."
The idea was to honor the memory of the late veteran, to make sure his name lived on even though he no longer walked the earth. Duane then invited all military members, both former and present, to add their names or those of other service members.
Duane’s request ended up going viral. That year, 20 boats stopped by Duane’s spot on the lake to add more names.
The tradition continued and just a few years later, the Veterans Chair held more than 500 names!
The Legacy Of Veterans Honored Lives On
Though Duane Bratvold may not personally know every one of the veterans honored on the chair, every name added holds a special place in his heart. He explained the significance of the tradition in an essay he wrote about the chair’s history.
“It is said a man dies twice. Once when he takes his last breath, and once when his name is spoken for the last time,” he wrote. “Once a year I stand at the chair and read out loud every name on the chair. Making sure I do my part to not forget them. This is the Chair’s story that continues to be rewritten every time a new name is added.”
Among the names, there are 19 Bronze Star and 51 Purple Heart recipients. And one of the fallen soldiers, added to the chair by his granddaughter, was the recipient of a WWII Medal of Honor.
Duane now considers himself the caretaker of the “Veterans Chair.” With more and more signatures added regularly, this chair has taken on a deeper purpose.
“It honors, it heals, it teaches, and it contains memories of those long gone," Duane says.
What a beautiful tribute to the brave men and women who sacrificed so much for this country!
"Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness." Isaiah 41:10
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h/t: KIRO 7 News