Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008 – Although OOIDA member Rick Peters isn’t a veteran himself, he is committed to honoring American veterans who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms he and others enjoy here in the United States.
On Veterans Day, Peters was scheduled to meet with Oregon’s only living Medal of Honor recipient and World War II veteran, Robert Maxwell, of Bend, OR, as part of a special ceremony planned in his home state.
That’s just one of the many ways Peters and his wife, Elizabeth, of Wilsonville, OR, pay tribute to veterans.
The Peters can’t go anywhere without people commenting on their custom-painted 2007 Peterbilt dump truck and transporter, titled “Rolling Tribute,” which is covered in murals depicting scenes honoring American soldiers.
However, Peters is quick to say that “Rolling Tribute” is just a sideline project to what they are really trying to do to honor veterans. They have undertaken a massive project to help veterans in Oregon.
The Peters, together with leaders from both the public and private sectors, have formed an advisory committee for the purpose of developing an Oregon Veterans Center in their hometown of Wilsonville.
Rick Peters said that while they have a 51-acre site along Interstate 5 in Wilsonville, the project is expected to cost between $200 million to $300 million to build. He said the money for the center would come from both public and private money. Once built, it would serve as a “one-stop center, which (could) house an array of services for veterans.”
Click here to visit the Peters’ Web site and find out more about their plans for the Oregon Veterans Center.
“We are tired of seeing these men and women who have done so much for us looked down on, sometimes by our own government, who sometimes aren’t doing all they can to help these veterans,” he said. “By building a veterans’ center like this, we think we can help them by lighting a fire under regulators and legislators. They are busy with their own agendas, but need to know our veterans deserve the respect that is due to them.”
Peters’ help band ‘brothers’ together
Since 2003, the Peters have been finding ways to honor veterans. Their first event, “Freedom is not free,” featured appearances by several veterans, including Tech. Sgt. Don Malarkey, of Salem, OR.
Malarkey was part of “Easy Company,” 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment Airborne, World War II. His story was highlighted in the Stephen Ambrose book, “Band of Brothers,” and the HBO miniseries by the same name.
The Peters flew in two of the men who also served with Malarkey in the 101st Airborne Division and who were featured in the “Band of Brothers” miniseries, including Sgt. “Wild” Bill Guarnere and Lt. Buck Compton.
“We contacted some of Don’s buddies and asked them to come out and surprise him,” Peters told Land Line Magazine on Monday, Nov. 10. “He was in the middle of giving his speech, and Bill and Buck came out on stage, and Don just lost it. We did this to honor their efforts and all they have done for us.”
Rick Peters said he had an “aha” moment after months of lying awake at night and wondering what he could do to express his gratitude to the veterans who have served our country and sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms.
“I think you get to a certain age – at least I did – where I started focusing on something other than myself and what I could do to hopefully make a difference,” he said. “Then I started asking myself what I can do that will matter to someone else before I kick the bucket and depart this Earth.”
– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer