Sunday, November 21, 2010
Friends of Bucky Anderson Memorial
A Facebook Site has been started for those who wish to be supportive of Kenny and Margaret Anderson.
You can visit and become a friend by clicking here.
Here you will find a narrative of what the Anderson's have had to deal with, instead of being left to attempt to heal:
The Truth, by John Skelly
Kenny and Margaret Anderson attended a candlelight service held 3 days following the announcement that their son, Spc. Brian “Bucky” Anderson, had been killed in action in Afghanistan. Clayton Murwin who also attended the candlelight service approached the Andersons to introduce himself. He gave his condolences for their loss and made them a promise that he would memorialize their son’s name and sacrifice so “Bucky” would not be forgotten. Within the week, Kay Kibler, an acquaintance of Clayton Murwin, took Clayton Murwin’s artistic rendering of the monument to the Anderson’s home. It was very clear to all present at that time that the monument was meant to be specifically for “Bucky”. It needs to be made clear that Kenny and Margaret never asked for their son’s name to be memorialized on a monument; however, after viewing Clayton Murwin’s drawing of the monument, they understood that this monument was always intended to be for their son’s sacrifice.
Clayton Murwin and his Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. shortly began raising funds using his artistic rendering and a pencil portrait of Bucky’s military picture. Many local businesses were visited seeking donations for this monument dedicated to the Bucky Anderson Memorial Monument. During the dinner following the funeral, Mr. Murwin approached many mourners’ tables asking them for a donation to the Bucky Anderson Memorial Monument. He also collected money at a car wash fundraiser held at the Exxon station in Timberville in mid-July, seeking donations for the Brian “Bucky” Anderson Memorial Monument, which his parents attended. During all of these events, Mr. Murwin made it clear to donators that they were giving money to directly fund the Brian “Bucky” Anderson Memorial Monument. Shortly after the carwash fundraiser, Clayton Murwin announced in the Daily News-Record that all the necessary funds had been raised for the construction of the monument with a substantial surplus. He also stated in the community that the monument would be delivered in time to be dedicated at Broadway High School’s first home football game. During this time, Clayton Murwin was approached by management of the Broadway’s Domino Pizza Franchise to help design a flyer to announce a “Bucky” Anderson Memorial Monument fund drive to be held two Saturdays after the carwash event. Shortly after the Pizza’s fundraiser, Margaret and Kenny Anderson became concerned with the fundraising techniques employed by Mr. Murwin and his Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc.
I have known Kenny and Margaret Anderson for the past 20+ years. I felt honored by Kenny and Margaret’s request to help them sort through questions that had arisen around the issue of a monument honoring their son’s sacrifice. They were concerned with 4 specific issues and they asked me to address them with Clayton Murwin and his organization.
1). Kenny Anderson, who attended the carwash, observed that no receipts were offered for cash donation.
2) Margaret was contacted by Domino’s Pizzas’ management and told her that their fundraiser had raised $600.00 for the Brian “Bucky” Anderson Memorial Monument. However, since it was stated in the paper that all of the necessary funds had been raised for the monument, they asked Margaret if she would prefer the cash be given to “Bucky’s” scholarship fund, which greatly excited Kenny and Margaret. Shortly thereafter, Clayton Murwin visited Domino’s Pizza inquiring for the results of the fundraiser. He was told that they collected $600.00 and since the newspaper article had reported that all the monies necessary to build the monument had already been raised, the Anderson’s wanted to donate this $600 to Bucky’s scholarship fund. Mr. Murwin become very upset with the management and demanded that the monies be turned over to his organization. He felt the money was “his” because the Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. logo was used on the bottom of the flyer and also claiming IRS regulations requiring him to collect the money. Domino’s Pizza management team reported that Clayton Murwin made a big scene and disrupted business activities. In the end, Clayton Murwin collected the $600 from Domino’s Pizza. In the meantime, Clayton Murwin has promised to give that money to the Bucky’s Scholarship Fund; however, he has yet to make that contribution.
3) The Anderson’s had heard a rumor that Clayton Murwin was offering donors who gave $500 or more to the Brian “Bucky” Memorial Monument to have their names engraved on the back. The Anderson’s wishes were that this not be done. They felt all donations were of equal value and should not be judged on a monetary scale. These donations were collected from a community who wanted to honor Bucky’s memory -- certainly not to advertise their support.
4) Andy Anderson, Bucky’s brother, had been planning a softball tournament to raise money for Bucky’s Scholarship Fund. Clayton Murwin harassed Andy until the wee hours of the morning by cell phone, insisting that Andy needed his help to raise awareness of this tournament. Andy wanted to do this for his brother and told Clayton Murwin that he did not need his help. Andy stated that he had to turn his cell phone off to stop these calls. At this point, on behalf of Kenny and Margaret Anderson, I began making phone calls and visits to Clayton Murwin and members of Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc.’s board of directors. During these calls and meetings, I asked these questions:
1) Who was keeping the financial statements on the monies collected for the Brian “Bucky” Anderson Memorial Monument fundraising efforts?
2) Had any of the money been spent?
3) What the specifications of the monument were to be and what was to be engraved on it?
4) Who was commissioned to do the actual construction of the monument and bronze artwork?
5) Was a completed monument to be ready for the first home football game as stated to me by Clayton Murwin? All of the initial calls and visits resulted in the fact that Keith Clark was their record keeper and that the monument was to be completed in time for Broadway High School’s first home football game, provided that the Rockingham County School Board would grant permission to erect the monument on school grounds. Very quickly the responses to my calls and visits turned from being cordial into a defensive posture on their part with answers that became combative.
During the same time that I was asking these questions, another situation developed. Kay Kibler, a member of VFW Post #9660 Ladies Auxiliary, attended a meeting where she presented Clayton Murwin’s artistic rendering of the Bucky Anderson Memorial Monument, the same information that she presented to the Andersons. Her intentions were to secure another donation for the monument. A strong disagreement occurred among the members present. Some members did not think it was fair to represent only Bucky’s service and sacrifice when other BHS soldiers made the same sacrifice. The membership voted not to make a donation to Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. because it was only for a Bucky Anderson Memorial. Due to this stance taken by the VFW Post #9660 Ladies Auxiliary, Kay Kibler and a few other members transferred their membership shortly after this meeting. Kay then makes Clayton Murwin aware of her transfer and why the VFW #9660 Ladies Auxiliary wouldn’t be making a contribution. Clayton Murwin acknowledged Kay’s statement, made sure he had the right VFW Post #9660 and told her that if any donations came from that VFW he would return that contribution with the notation that he was raising money for a Bucky Anderson Memorial.
I met with the Andersons to discuss the results of my meetings, phone calls and conversations with Clayton Murwin and Keith Clark. Besides unsatisfactory answers to simple questions about the monument, the Andersons were now dealing with rumors that the monument was no longer a Bucky Anderson memorial; these rumors greatly upset the Andersons. Their sons’ name and likeness was still being used to raise and collect money for the monument.
Shortly after the Rockingham County School Board resolution, Clayton Murwin began to change and delete information that he had posted on many websites dealing with Buckys’ monument. Why? After prodding from public officials, we were able to obtain a ledger from the beginning of fundraising through the School Board’s resolution. Studying the ledger showed that the actor Brian Krause, a TV actor, who according to news articles donated his time and efforts to help raise money for the monument. Clayton Merwin also told me personally in our first phone conversation that he had personally paid for the airplane ticket for Brain Krause.In actuality, Clayton Murwin used funds already raised from the community for the monument to pay for a 1st Class airplane ticket to fly him to Broadway along with parking fees, food and entertainment expenses totaling over $1,000. At the autograph signing session, Brian Krause claimed that he raised $650 for his autograph signing of which he donated back $500 to the fund. His visit cost the community over $500 of already donated funds given for the monument. With this revelation of the Brian Krause financial disclosures and the fact the monument was not going to be ready for the BHS’s first home football game, the Andersons’ patience and understanding was wearing very thin. With much prodding and pushing, we were able to get the Andersons to sit down with Marsha Garst, Commonwealth Attorney for Rockingham County, Pablo Cuevas, member of the Rockingham Board of Supervisors, Keith Clark, Vice President of the Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. and myself to attempt to sort through the confusion and come to some sort of an agreement. The financial accounting shows that a check had been sent from Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. in the amount of $6,800.00 to a group in Florida called Florida’s Heroes Fallen. At this time, Keith Clark confirmed that the check was in Florida’s Heroes Fallen and that no work had been done on the monument. Keith Clark also said there was no signed contract between the two organization and no drawing as to exact features were to be included on the monument. Marsha Garst, along with the Andersons’ input, drew a rendition of what they believed the monument was to look like. Kenny Anderson made it clear that he wanted an extra cut on the granite block to include the engraving “Freedom Is Not Free”. The Andersons stated that they wanted to pay for this extra work. Bucky’s name, accomplishments and accompanying information was to be on the front. The Anderson’s were in agreement that the emblems of the Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. and Florida’s Heroes Fallen would be displayed on the back. All of the attendees at this meeting were in agreement as to what the monument was to look like and the verbiage to be included. The Andersons were concerned with the fact that there would be shipping costs incurred from Florida. It was agreed at this meeting that Keith Clark would get itemized prices for each part of this work plus any additional shipping. The bronze artwork was something that Kenny Anderson was going to price from a company located in Baltimore, MD. Margaret was going to follow up and get prices from local monument companies and that I would check on the possibilities of bronze plaques as opposed to engraving the monument . Then it was agreed that all parties would convene again in 3 weeks with their information. It would then be determined who was to be commissioned to do the work and what the total expenses would be; a joint announcement would be made at that time. It was agreed by all that no one would talk to the media, Keith Clark agreed and shook every bodies hand. Within approximately a week, a news article was released in the Daily News-Record quoting Clayton Murwin that the bronze and granite monument should arrive in about two weeks but was unsure as to where it was to be placed (this date was not met). Many other statements were made in that article that greatly disturbed and upset the Andersons. Clayton Murwin and the Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. had broken all of their agreements and trust that was gained during the last meeting. At this time, Keith Clark put in his resignation from the organization. Now we felt that we needed help and advice from legal counsel. It was the Attorneys’ recommendation that we ask for mediation. Clayton Murwin and his group also retained an Attorney and a mediation session was set up for October 19th. On the mediation day, Margaret Anderson found a posting on the website for the Heroes Fallen Studies, Inc. making a statement that the granite portion of the monument had been completed and would be delivered on the 23rd of October. He also stated that the bronze work had been held up due to factory problems and that the site at BHS had been blocked. With this upsetting information, the Andersons entered the mediation session with a lot of emotion and distrust of Clayton Murwin. The session did not go well; however, a few tentative agreements were reached with Clayton Murwin. One of the agreements was that Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. would no longer use the pencil sketch made of Bucky’s military photo in any of their fundraising efforts. In return, Clayton Murwin demanded the Andersons return the plaque (made by Blue Ridge Trophy Shop) that was given to them at the carwash event; which contained the pencil drawing done by Clayton Murwin. Clayton Murwin then provided a hand-drawn sketch of the completed granite portion of the monument with Bucky’s name and pertinent information on the front and on the back a list of sponsors who had given $500.00 in cash or in value of materials or services provided (deemed by Mr. Murwin) towards the project. The first name on this list was TV actor, Brian Krause. The Andersons were distraught with this information and immediately demanded the removal of their sons’ name from the completed monument. Clayton Murwin agreed to cover Buckys’s name with a bronze plaque using donated funds. Kenny and Margaret Anderson removed themselves from the room; thus, ending the session. The next day, I had a conversation with our Attorney and we decided to request, through Clayton Murwins’ attorney, for any picture that showed that the granite portion of the monument did actually exist. Their attorneys’ e-mail response to this request was not only confusing but also very disturbing to all. The Attorneys’ e-mail response is as follows: “It has been done but not shipped. I will be glad to have my client provide a photo upon receipt. Please caution Mr. Skelly against trying to add additional conditions to the agreement, my client compromised a lot. Obviously, if it had not already been finished, the discussions could have proceeded differently last night. Please also remind Mr. Skelly that the Anderson’s son’s name was not originally going to be on the monument, my client added his name at the request of the Andersons but have now been asked to have it covered-up. We need to let the scabs dry and heal and I know you appreciate that, I hope Mr. Skelly can come to appreciate it too.” This was a devastating response to a simple request for a picture to confirm the existence of a monument and was another blow to the Andersons’ healing process. Murwin’s attorney also informed us; the next day; that Bucky’s name had not been done, thus saving donated funds. This was the first time that it became obvious to me that Clayton Murwin and the Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. may have another agenda. Clayton Murwin and his Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. had been trying for over two years to publish what he calls a graphic novel relating the stories of soldiers who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Until recently, he has had limited success in our community raising the funds necessary to publish his first edition. Clayton Murwin has just recently announced on his web page that the first publication will be released this month and ready to go on sale at the cost of $24.99/copy. Clayton Murwin reported the first-run cost of the graphic novel was to be $6,500.00. We all know the quoted cost for the Bucky Anderson monument was to cost $6,800.00 (Coincidence?) Not only did Clayton Murwin ignore the wishes of Kenny and Margaret Anderson not to have donors listed on the back of the monument, it was claimed that the monument was already completed, including the list of donors on the back. I have spoken with over half of the listed donors. Of these donors, none of them were consulted nor wanted their names on the back of the monument. They all said that they gave money, materials and services specifically for the Spc. Brian “Bucky” Anderson Memorial Monument. Our community has always had compassion to lend help, effort and money to any good cause; in my opinion Clayton Murwin and his organization took advantage of this and collected money that was designated for a great cause, the Spc. Brian “Bucky” Anderson Memorial Monument and has given us nothing. You truly failed to tap the full resources of this community and instead actually attempted to split the community for your financial gains to benefit the Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. and its goals of publishing a graphic novel. The Andersons have fought long and hard because their sons’ name was used in their community to raise money. They have come to the end of the road with negotiations with Clayton Murwin and his Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc. and even went so far as to explore the possibility of legal action. The Andersons know their community understands the need for them to go back to the process of grieving this first holiday season without their son. They will no longer pursue any questions surrounding the monument nor its’ funding. All they need to get through this holiday season is a pat on the back, a handshake, a hug or a thank-you for their son. Clayton Murwin, your early actions of approaching the Andersons at the candlelight vigil to honor Bucky were not only callous but you short-circuited the communities’ ability to react to the Andersons’ loss. If Clayton Murwin and his organization are truly trying to honor any of Broadway High School’s fallen heroes, you still have a chance. If the monument has not been completed at this time, please cease and desist any actions that would spend funds already raised for any version of the monument. The money raised from this community by your organization could still be a part of the solution. Following the holiday season, the community will come together to sort through the confusion and problems surrounding your efforts. Clayton Murwin and his organization have failed to use the greatest resource that was at their disposal and that was the understanding and compassion of Kenny and Margaret Anderson. Their family now knows the pain and suffering that must be endured by the loss of a family member. They will be the leaders in commemorating and honoring all of BHS fallen heroes.
They know in their hearts that Bucky would have wanted to stand proudly at the school he loved, BHS, along with his fallen comrades in arms.