|By Danielle Jackson
RALEIGH, N.C. — When Alice Lutz was growing up as a self-proclaimed “military brat” in Virginia Beach, Va., she attended various ceremonies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day each year honoring those who have served in the U.S. military.
Now, she is working to bring a piece of her military experience to the Triangle.
For the second year in a row, Lutz is doing just that as coordinator of the Veterans Day event Nov. 11 at Raleigh’s historic Oakwood Cemetery.
“So often in the military the entire family serves, not just the person being deployed,” says Lutz, president Oxygen: Business Planning & Development. “The ceremony is a way to honor and recognize people who have served our country, as well as their families.”
The event was launched last year when Lutz, then her son’s Boy Scout leader, began teaching the troop about veterans through stories, articles and discussions.
The lessons evolved into an event that drew more than 100 people and included a 21-gun salute, color and honor guards, and the playing of “Taps.”
The troop also laid a wreath, lit candles and folded an American flag, according to military tradition.
Lutz, who has 20 years of experience in event planning and nonprofit management, says she had no intention of coordinating the event any longer than the first year.
“I did this for a very specific reason, never anticipating that I’d ever do it again because of the time and details involved,” she says.
But after last year’s event, she says, she was approached by a veteran who moved her beyond words and into action.
She says he had arrived alone and approached Lutz to tell her that she’d missed something during the event.
“I panicked,” she says. “But he said what I forgot was to tell him my name. I told him it didn’t matter, but he said that it did. He said, ‘You don’t know how much you matter. You remembered me today, and that makes you someone to me.’ ”
He then hugged her and walked out of her life.
“I came home that day and said I’d do it again,” she says. “I just had to.”
Since last year, Lutz has jumped into action to prepare for the second annual ceremony, which she expects will draw as many as 500 attendees.
To make the event run smoothly, preparation is key, she says.
She says she must coordinate all speakers, ministers, buglers and Scouts, and visit the area’s Veterans of Foreign Wars, or VFW centers to have them send representatives.
“I hope this event will give people a cause to pause, because so often in our busy lives Veterans Day and Memorial Day are simply looked at as three-day weekends,” Lutz says. “What’s important for us is to stop and honor the people who would love to have such a three-day weekend.”
Job: President, Oxygen: Business Planning & Development, Raleigh
Born: Oct. 27, 1961, Philadelphia
Family: husband, Jerry Lutz; children. Samantha, 12, and Ryan, 10
Education: Bachelor of science degree, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.
Career: Telethon producer, March of Dimes; executive director, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Orlando, Fla.; vice president of marketing and communications, United Way of Wake County; executive director, Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness; coordinator, Thad & Alice Eure Walk for Hope
Hobbies: Reading, playing outside with husband and children, gardening, sports, volunteering at elementary and middle schools, traveling, working with Boy and Girl Scouts
Inspiration: “Minor adjustments create seismic changes. It’s about balance and remembering to breathe,” from instructor Brian O’Grady, course on Advanced Certificate in Nonprofit Management
When: Saturday, November 11, 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Where: Oakwood Cemetery, 701 Oakwood Ave., Raleigh
Minister: The Rev. Michael Worsham
Bugler: Chuck Cox, playing the National Anthem and “Taps”
Speakers: Ron Williams, Morrisville Reservists Unit; Leonard Hunter, Tuskegee airman
Features: Color and honor guards, 21-gun salute, Boy Scout Pact 350
Contact: Alice Lutz, (919) 848-1040, or e-mail email@example.com