Most 12 year old girls were out riding bikes, gossiping with friends, or playing with toys, but in 1977, Kathy Strong began a long journey of honoring her country.
On Christmas day that year, Kathy received a Vietnam MIA-POW bracelet. From that moment on she promised that she wouldn’t take it off until she could place it on the sleeve of the soldier it belonged to.
For 38 years, she wore the bracelet that bore the name James Leslie Moreland, a green beret who had already been missing in action since ’72.
“I made a promise and I wanted to keep it,” Kathy says. But would Moreland ever return home?
While many of us take the sacrifices our troops make for granted, there are just as many Americans who live their lives to honor them. It’s people like Kathy Strong, and others like Larry “the flag man” Eckhardt, who drives hundreds of miles everyday simply to provide flags to fallen soldiers who may otherwise have been forgotten, who keep the American spirit alive!
See how Kathy fulfilled her promise to a soldier she never met and her beloved country below!
On Christmas day in 1977, when she was just 12 years old, Kathy Strong made a promise to a Vietnam soldier.
She had received a bracelet with his name on it. Some of you may remember these — it was a Vietnam POW-MIA bracelet. The bracelet was engraved with the name of a soldier who was either a prisoner of war or missing in action. Girls would wear them until their assigned soldiers returned home. Then they would take them off or greet the men on their arrival. Kathy made a promise to return the bracelet to her soldier, a man she had never met, when he finally came back home.
That soldier was James Leslie Moreland, an elite Army Green Beret, who had been MIA since 1972.
As Kathy grew older and the bracelet fad went away, she never took hers off. She knew in her heart that one day she would return it to Moreland.
“I made a promise and I wanted to keep it,” she says.
Kathy would longingly watch footage of other girls greeting soldiers at the airport. They would give the brave men a kiss on the cheek and delicately place the bracelet back on their wrists. It was a way of thanking them for their duty in one of America’s most gruesome wars. Eventually, Kathy realized that wasn’t in the stars for her.
“They showed footage back in the day of the soldiers coming off the planes and I always thought ‘I’m going to be there and have him put it on his arm,’ and that’s how I always pictured it,” Kathy says. “But that wasn’t meant to be.”
After 43 years missing, Moreland finally came home. The honorable soldier was found deceased and brought back to the United States.
It was on this day that Kathy finally took off the bracelet and placed it on his wrist, thereby keeping her promise to him and honoring her country.
“This is quality that we just don’t hardly find in America anymore,” says Col. Paul Longgrear says. “A commitment to her word even though she was a child.”