Veterans group here honors Upton with award

Published 11:10 pm Thursday, August 19, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Brian Martin of Niles couldn't imagine what his life would be like without Fred Upton being there for him.
When Martin came back from fighting in the Gulf War, he had "Gulf War Syndrome." When went to the VA hospital, he was told there were no records of him serving in the military and that he couldn't receive treatment.
Martin, vice president of the Spirit of America Foundation, presented the Michigan congressman with an award from the foundation recognizing Upton's support of veterans at Riverfront Park on Tuesday.
A Spirit of America flag was also presented to Upton by Dale Hemphill of Mishawaka, Ind., a Vietnam war veteran and president of the foundation.
The flag, designed by Hemphill, is designed to represent all the nation's heroes from the Revolutionary War to the men and women serving our country today, Hemphill said.
The inspiration for the design of the flag originally came to Hemphill during the Iran hostage situation in 1979. Hemphill designed an insignia dedicated to the men and women who gave their lives during that time, and named it the "Spirit of America."
Since its creation, the Spirit of America foundation has grown into a non-profit organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families.
The insignia now stands to honor all men and women, living or dead, who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, Hemphill said.
To raise money for veterans and their families, Hemphill created Forgotten Heroes, Ltd., a company that sells Spirit of America memorabilia. Items for sale include hats, t-shirts, and jackets bearing the Spirit of America insignia.
The foundation also held a raffle for a 1998 Ford F-150 pickup truck painted with a Spirit of America theme. The raffle helped raise money for veterans and their families.
After accepting his awards and flag, Upton paused a moment to reflect on veterans from past wars. Upton personally thanked World War II veteran Richard Hemphill, Dale's father and one of the presenters during the ceremony.
Upton also spoke of his father, a World War II veteran who recently celebrated his 80th birthday when the World War II War memorial was dedicated in Washington D.C.
Upton also reminded those in attendance that there are still American soldiers in Iraq, and that the U.S. military involvement there is far from complete.