As Chief Frank Davis lay dying in his ICU hospital bed, he was forbidden to have live flowers. His daughter purchased for him a silver plastic rose, to which he said “I’d rather have this silver rose than all of the Purple Hearts in the Pentagon.” He died shortly afterwards of the cancer that was directly linked to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam more than 20 years earlier.
Those whose deaths are linked to their Agent Orange (and the other dioxin-rich defoliants) exposure from their service in Vietnam are ineligible for the Purple Heart. This saddens and angers many families and service members who directly link their combat service exposure to their (pending) death. Mary Elizabeth Marchand channeled her energies after the death of her father (Chief Frank Davis) into creating the non-profit organization the Order of the Silver Rose.
The Order of the Silver Rose has many purposes; first, to honor the nation’s “chemically-wounded” warriors and to educate the public regarding the extent and the dangers of exposures. Secondly, it wants to spread the word to those who were exposed to Agent Orange that simple lab tests done on a regular basis can detect many illnesses linked to the chemical exposure. Early detection helps to extend life or even cure the disease in question. And lastly, it helps to find resources that veterans and families may be eligible for through the VA.
Service members and their family may contact the Order to begin the application process. However, the national organization is on a hiatus due to family illness. Arizona offers a state branch that can be found on Facebook.
“The price of a silver rose is not free. They gave their todays for your tomorrows.”