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It Was Time to Say Thank You!
Dick Couture is currently the Director of Donor Marketing
and Database Management at the Army Historical Foundation, where he
is responsible for the direct mail program, grassroots fundraising,
and donor services support. Additionally, Dick has designed and developed
the Registry of the American Soldier to recognize the service and sacrifice
of soldiers at home and around the world, at war and in peace, from
1775 to the present.
Dick's relationship with the military dates back to 1970, when he joined
the U.S. Army and served at the USA Computer Systems Command at Ft.
Belvoir before transferring to the 94th Engineer Battalion in Germany.
After military service, Dick received his BS and MBA degrees from George
Mason University. He began his career fundraising for the American Lung
Association. After promotions to the New York headquarters, he relocated
to the Washington, DC area and established the Fulfillment Center for
the American Red Cross. Managing the national data and operations center
in development, Dick helped grow their program from 100 chapters to
more than 700 that participated in direct mail fundraising. The Fulfillment
Center also supported national disaster fundraising, processing donations
for Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew, as well as the California earthquake.
For his efforts, Dick received the national staff Tiffany Award.
In 1998 Dick's career path led him to the American Battle Monuments
Commission (AMBC) to spearhead the marketing efforts of a campaign to
build a World War II memorial to honor the 16 million who served in
the armed forces, the over 400,000 who died, and all those who supported
the war effort at home, The idea for such a memorial was born in 1987
when a retired postal clerk in Cleveland, Ohio, asked his U.S. Representative
why there was no memorial honoring the men and women of World War II.
After confirming his claim, Congresswoman Mary Kaptur introduced legislation
to create such a monument and it was signed into law in 1993. The design
competition and approval process continued through 2000. Construction
on the memorial began with a groundbreaking ceremony the fall of 2000,
with 15,000 veterans in attendance. With over 1,000 WWII veterans dying
every day, timely completion was critical.
Dick Couture not only led the direct marketing campaign for the Memorial,
but also developed the World War II Registry of Remembrances, established
to tell the stories - for the record and in their own words - of all
who participated in the war - a war to fight tyranny and preserve the
freedoms we enjoy today. Boys from the farms in the nation's heartland
were fighting from the islands of the South Pacific to the North African
Desert with the goal of stopping the cruel despot in Germany. Names
and images from the many battle sites appear at the Memorial and online
as well. Dick is proud that steps were taken to include this dynamic
virtual monument and to make it free to honor the service and sacrifice
of millions of Americans in uniform and on the homefront.
The dedication of the World War II Memorial and the Registry of Remembrances
was a happy - and solemn - occasion that was the culmination of a four-day
veterans reunion on the Washington Mall in May 2004. With more than
150,000 celebrants in attendance, it was the largest seated event ever
held on the Mall, and it was a fitting tribute to the accomplishments
of the men and women who helped win World War II and a defining event
in the 20th century. The Memorial's placement, between the Washington
Monument of the 18th century and the Lincoln Memorial of the 19th century,
was most appropriate. Dick was instrumental in making the monument,
the reunion, and the dedication a reality. Veterans, surviving spouses,
and children of World War II veterans gathered for one last great roundup.
Senators Dole and Inouye spoke of their experiences, as did Bob Feller,
Mike Wallace, and ordinary soldiers who shaped, in so many ways, society
today. Tom Hanks, in promoting the World War II Memorial, effectively
used the campaign's slogan, "It's Time to Say Thank You,"
and echoed the gratitude felt for all who participated in the war.
Dick's work with the World War II Memorial was, in part, a tribute to
his father, Al Couture, who joined the Army in 1943. Fresh out of high
school in Norwich, Connecticut, he found his wings stateside and, with
five other flight crews, joined the 456th bomb squadron out of Stornara,
Italy. The other four planes were shot down, attesting to the dangers
the men routinely faced in battle and the bravery they displayed as
the losses mounted. They did what was necessary, and they succeeded.
"Dad flew 28 missions before the war ended. At the 60th anniversary
commemoration of the end of WWII, the bomb group had its 61st anniversary
celebration in Washington, DC. Sixty-five surviving members enjoyed
the engaging ribaldry and camaraderie. Families attended with great
pride in what our fathers had done so many years earlier. During the
banquet, my father had me stand to be recognized for my efforts to raise
money and help build the Memorial. That made all my work worth it."
To capture for posterity the experiences of the common soldier, Dick
Couture joined the staff of the Army Historical Foundation in July 2005.
He is working to create the National Museum of the U.S. Army. Dick is
also designing the Registry of the American Soldier as an important
and powerful element of the commemorative mission of the Museum - to
represent the 230-year history of all involved with the Army.
Dick's passion and talents not only serve to honor those involved with
America's armed forces and the missions they accomplished, but also
to preserve for America's future generations the individual names and
faces behind those efforts.
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