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Archive for September, 2010

By Catherine McCarthy (We’d link to her FB page, but it’s DOWN.)

1. PANIC!!!
2. Told everyone on Twitter that Facebook was down
3. Posited several conspiracy theories about it
4. Swore off Facebook
5. Cried
6. Actually went outside…hurt my eyes
7. Went back to talking about Pepsi Refresh

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Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. I’m embarrassed to admit, I don’t have this day marked on my calendar.

This despite the fact that a member of my family was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and spent the next six years being tortured at the Hanoi Hilton. Uncle Byron has never been able to pick up my kids for fear that his permanently damaged shoulders would give out, and he’d drop them. His is the face I see over the black and white flag that commemorates POWs.

We seem to associate prisoners of war and service members missing in action with previous wars. The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office does not list the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in their statistics. As of March of this year, two service members were officially listed as missing/captured.

Jessica Lynch’s capture and rescue made headlines at the beginning of the war in Iraq. Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin was missing for four years before his remains were finally recovered.

But the others haven’t seemed to find a place in our popular conscience.

So I’m making a note on my calendar today. I’m giving thanks for the men and women whose faces fit the stark profile above.

You are not forgotten.

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This is a memorable day for all of us. Even if we didn’t know a single soul lost in the terrorist attacks, the catastrophe touched us all.

Operation Homefront was founded in the wake of those attacks. Once service members started deploying, concerned patriots saw the struggle families faced. They banded together to find ways to help, and their movement quickly grew.

Today we have chapters across the country made up mostly of volunteers. Nothing can make up for the lives lost and the families torn apart on this day nine years ago, but the people who’ve stepped up to serve in the military and in nonprofit organizations are helping our nation heal.

So thank you — to our military members, to our volunteers, our supporters and fellow nonprofit agencies. Today we remember not just the tragedy of the attacks, but the heroism, generosity and compassion that followed the devastation.

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Cake and ice cream. Saturday and Sunday. Sideshow Bob and Krusty the Clown. They’re all better together than on their own.

It’s a lesson several military charities have taken to heart as they work to win the Pepsi Refresh program. This grant competition has been running monthly contests; charities with the highest number of online votes can win $5,000, $25,000, $50,000 or $250,000.

Competition is fierce, but so is loyal support. Rather than dividing and conquering, military aid charities are banding together for Tag Team for the Troops. Each registered visitor gets up to 10 votes a day, so this group is encouraging all of their supporters to vote for other organizations that serve the military community.

It’s a great way to pool resources and keep the focus where it belongs: Proving how small things add up to make a difference for our military families.

So we at Operation Homefront and our friends at Operation Gratitude are casting our votes for these other nonprofits who need and deserve a Pepsi grant.

We hope you will, too.

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Our combat mission in Iraq may technically be over, but our service members continue to deploy. That means our families are still facing long separations during a difficult economy. Today Operation Homefront CEO Jim Knotts spoke with multiple radio stations about how the families we support still need us, and how we all can help.

Here’s Jim’s interview with WRVA in Richmond.

Jim Knotts on WRVA Richmond 09-01-2010

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