*Losing someone you love to an untimely death is likely one of the hardest experiences to endure in life. And that feeling is painfully amplified when it comes to parents losing children.
Bruce Atlas, Station Manager at Southwest Airlines in Ontario, CA, along with his wife, Dana, experienced such pain when they lost their beloved son, PFC Marcus Allen Tynes, in combat only two months after he joined the military. The day he received the news “was the worst day of my life,” Bruce intimated when speaking of the difficult experience. “When I saw them [uniformed officers], I knew what had happened, so I had to go and break that news to my wife … go to where she was working and have her come off the elevator happy to see me and jump into my arms, only to see her lying on the floor after sharing that our son was killed in Afghanistan.”
Marcus was Bruce and Dana’s third born, who they’d raised and was naturally inclined to serve:
“He was that kind of kid … he was a community kid,” Bruce said. “If he saw you at one of the stores trying to load a case of water, he’d say ‘let me get that for you,’ sir. If he saw a woman loading stuff in her car, he’d say ‘let me help you ma’am,’ He was a true gentleman.
“He was working with the Riverside Explorers and as an Explorer he made up in his mind that he wanted to be in law enforcement. So, after he graduated from high school, he went into the military, he was in the army, and he was gonna use his military experience to help catapult him through the academy.”
But Bruce and his wife couldn’t have foreseen that their son’s admirable ways and his plan to secure his future would end his life shortly after he left home for the first time, despite the conversation they had with their son about the realities of serving in the armed forces during wartime. Along with his wife, Bruce candidly shared with his son the dangers that were inherent in serving one’s country, but Marcus was undeterred; it was in his heart:
“She [Dana] tried to talk him out of going but he wanted to be there,” he reflected. “He knew the obstacles he was up against and that there could be the very situation that took place … but, he was up for it and he wanted to serve.”
The possibilities that they spoke of became reality. It was a deadly encounter with an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) that took their then-19-year-old son’s life:
“He was with the 82nd Airborne and they deployed on my birthday, September 1st of 2009, and went to Afghanistan. He was there two months and on November 22nd his unit was out on patrol and turned onto this particular road … he was in a Humvee and he just stopped and surveyed the area. They said what’s the problem, why are we not moving? And he said something doesn’t feel right, but they made the determination that it was all clear, and 100 or 200 yards ahead of them, his Humvee ran over and IED.”
“She [wife] was basically losing her mind and couldn’t get her mind around it. So, I told her we have to turn this tragedy into triumph and he was doing what he wanted to do, he wanted to serve.”
That statement, “we have to turn tragedy into triumph,” was the catalyst for establishing a scholarship foundation in their son’s honor and for changing the way Bruce and Dana viewed Veteran’s Day. Ultimately, it spurred the creation of a platform with the potential of changing the way the Veteran’s Day is viewed by others as well; in their eyes, it was to become a day of remembrance of the fallen and to honor those who are serving or have served their country, including their families:
“Afterwards we were looking at Veterans Day and how it appears as if people see it as just another day off from work. The post office is closed, the banks are closed, there’s no school, people just stay home … so what we were looking to do was re-activate Veterans Day. So, we established “The Give Love Tour 2013” as an opportunity to invite the military out for a full day of festivities.”
The Give Love Tour is a 3-day star-studded, celebrity-filled, politically honored and community supported weekend from November 9th-11th, 2013 that begins at the Citizens Business Bank Arena, 4000 E Ontario Center Parkway, Ontario, CA 91764 Lot F, with the Free Family Fun Festival taking place November 9th from 10am-6pm. The Free Family Fun Festival is comprised of over 100 vendors, live performances, kid zones, a food drive, giveaways and more. All veterans in attendance will be honored with a meal and special notes of love from the community on the “wall of love” and receive special thanks from various city, state and government officials.
Two mega concerts (November 9, in Ontario, CA Ledisi, and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly and November 10, San Diego, CA, Howard Hewitt, The Whispers, and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly) will raise funds to help support the Free Family Fun Festival for Veterans that is being held earlier that day as well as to feed the Homeless Vets on November 11th, 2013.
For more information or to find out how to purchase mega concert tickets, visit WWW.GIVELOVETOUR.COM.