The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 16, 2014

VIDEO: Local men honor veterans, public safety responders via Brothers with a Cause

Duane and Claire Swatosh attract a lot of attention while traveling in their tribute vehicles that are decorated to honor veterans, emergency responders and fallen soldiers — but their goal isn’t to only catch people’s eyes.

“If we can get one person to think about the veterans and the men and women serving our country, then we’ve accomplished a lot,” said Duane Swatosh, who with brother Claire, started Brothers with a Cause in 2010.

It took almost 12 years to finish building and painting the tribute vehicles — a dune buggy and roadster with a trailer. Now, the Swatosh brothers, both veterans, focus their time and effort on their goal of raising support for service men and women.

Just outside Cartersville on Route 66 at Claire Swatosh’s home, a monument honoring veterans was recently built and can be seen from the highway, prompting those who are traveling the Mother Road to stop by.

The monument includes a stone that pays tribute to “all the  men and women who have and are fighting for our country to preserve our freedom.” A silhouette of a soldier kneeling at a cross was made by Claire Swatosh and a few family members, and several flags representing military branches fly above.

“When I was in (the Marine Corps), there were so many times that I’d leave my wife and my daughter at home,” Duane Swatosh said, adding that’s still the way it is today for those who are in the military.

“We’re both veterans and we know what it’s like,” Claire Swatosh said. “But this isn’t about us. Our law enforcement, our firefighters, without a blink of an eye, they will put themselves in harm’s way to serve our community, to serve our country. That’s why we decided to build the monument out here to honor them.”

Claire Swatosh said the highway gets a lot of traffic, and there have been times when he and his wife will look out their front door and see about 15 motorcyclists in their driveway. He has met people from across the country, as well as around the world, including Belgium, France and Australia.

Some of the people who stop are from families with a military background.

“They’re really appreciative that people do things to get people’s attention,” Claire Swatosh said.  

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