Jump directly to page content  The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center
Participate in the Project (Veterans History Project)
HomeAboutParticipateDatabase SearchExperiencing WarPartnersStudentsFAQsNews

Volunteer Spotlight - LYNX Bus System (June/July 2005)

Image: Thomas family at LYNX bus unveiling.View additional Volunteer Spotlights
On November 12, 2004, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi unveiled a city-size bus at 11 a.m. before went on a year-long "tour of duty" in Orlando, Fla. The painted bus was sponsored by LYNX bus system of Central Florida and ran as a public service to raise awareness about the Veterans History Project.

Designing the LYNX Bus
by Leanne Thomas, Senior Art Director, LYNX, Orlando, Florida

that amazing woman who created
the vietnam veteran's wall in washington d.c.
is on tv
and she says she put the
names up in order of when they died, what year
and the camera pans to include
"James E. Thomas"
just one initial off from
my own dad who was there
the first year of my life
and came home
we've cried about it
thinking how much we missed
that first year of his first kid
how much
we didn't miss
that could be me,
putting my fingers on a name

I wrote that several years before Debbe King walked around the corner of my office one day and asked me to start thinking about a design for the 2004 veterans' bus featuring the Veterans' History Project.

I told her I knew I had a medal from my own Dad at home, some ribbons, and a patch or two, and, somewhere, a photograph. She "encouraged" me to bring these items in (sort of like you "encourage" a nail to go into the wall by hammering it in…) At any rate, I finally found my Dad's ribbons, the patch he and his fellow medics designed and had produced in Saigon, and a photograph that shows him grinning in a crewcut. We soon hatched a plan to surprise my Dad at the bus unveiling.

Since they live nearby, I called my Mom and asked her if she thought Dad would be okay with having his face and ribbons rolling all over town. She thought he would be proud, and so I told her the date and time of the unveiling and to please keep the fact that Dad was going to be on the bus a secret.

As Debbe collected the photographs and memorabilia from other veterans with ties to Central Florida, I scanned in my Dad's items, found out the exact purple color the Library of Congress was using on all of it's print materials concerning the Veterans' History Project, and began to design the bus.

I'd managed to keep my mouth shut about this for about two months, a feat many who know me will not believe. The day before the unveiling I was on the phone with my Mom.She told me they were going to Tampa for a doctor's appointment the next day - the day of the unveiling! "What!" I said, "that's the UNVEILING!" So she tried to get my Dad to reschedule his appointment without telling him why, just that I really wanted him to be there. When he wouldn't do it, I got on the phone with him. "Do I have to tell you why I want you to be there so bad?" "Yes," he said. "Because you're ON the bus, you're in the speaking notes about the bus, and you're going to help UNVEIL the bus! - Surprise!" Not quite the surprise I'd hoped for, but so it goes.

Attending the bus unveiling together - I even took my daughter out of school to witness her Papa's moment of fame - we shed a few tears together again. It was a pleasure to meet Peter Bartis from the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, who spoke to those of us who gathered to honor the stories of all those who have sacrificed for our country and for us.

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to design this bus. I hope many people will remember and tell stories to each other, stories that connect us. I will be interviewing my Dad soon for the Veterans' History Project. I've got a new video tape, and a fresh box of tissues.

View additional Volunteer Spotlights

Return to Top of Page TOP OF PAGE
HomeAboutParticipateDatabase SearchExperiencing WarPartnersStudentsFAQsNews
  The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center
  August 10, 2010
For Researchers | VHP Disclaimer | Contact Us  
Legal | External Link Disclaimer