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NEW YORK, New York (Sept. 11)--Smoke rises in lower Manhattan after the World Trade Centers fall Sept. 11, 2001. USCG photo by PA2 Tom Sperduto

NEW YORK, New York (Sept. 11)–Smoke rises in lower Manhattan after the World Trade Centers fall Sept. 11, 2001. USCG photo by PA2 Tom Sperduto

When we reflect on the events of September 11, 2001, the horror and pain of that day is often mingled with the hope and comfort of the many images and stories of heroism. Our generation had never seen such outpouring of concern and support from Americans, coast to coast.  From those who opened their homes to the stranded, to those who passed out water bottles to first responders near the scenes of tragedy, we were buoyed in our darkest hours by the values and spirit that has defined this country since its founding.

Today, 15 years later, as we pause to reflect this Sunday on Patriot Day, many of us may wonder, “Where has that spirit gone?”  You may hear others wonder aloud whether the America reflected in those days of fellowship and unity is gone, never to be recovered.

But there is one group that still believes.

Our men and women in uniform. And they have arguably carried the biggest burden and paid a heavy cost since that fall of 2001.

We have talked with men and women who joined specifically because of the attacks of September 11.  Some were mere children at the time, but they carried that calling with them until they were old enough to volunteer.  Still others talk about an opportunity given to them, or to their immigrant parents, and of a need to give back.  In the 15 years that Operation Homefront has worked with military and wounded warrior families, we have been amazed time and again at the love and reverence that generations of Americans have for this country.

And when reflecting on their service, the vast majority talk about bonds tighter than family, in some cases, and the privilege of serving with the finest men and women that America has to offer.

It is in these conversations that we see the core values of who we are as a nation, and the resiliency and strength that allows us to weather the darker times.

The men and women of our armed forces come from our communities.  The honor, courage, commitment and call to service comes from the communities they were raised in.  In short, they are America.

And they are not alone.

Support for military families comes from all walks of life. We see it at the events we host around the country. We often partner with other organizations serving other needs in their community, such as mental health and food insecurity. We see the young and the old all doing something to make their little part of the world a better place.

Americans answered the call then, and they continue to answer the call today.

Many say there seems to be a lot of anger in the air these days, whether it’s  talk shows, the web, or social media.  They wonder how to make it better. But we ask you to take a moment and really look around and see that your fellow Americans are still phenomenally friendly, caring, generous, and quick to help when help is needed. Sometimes the opportunity to keep the spirit alive comes to you, other times you need to seek it out.  But it is there.

This September 11 anniversary, we encourage everyone to find a way to keep the spirit alive in their community. It does not always have to be a donation of money or goods, it can be your time, an ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on. A smile to a stranger or stopping to take a moment to talk to someone.

doing so, we can, as in the words of President Bush in his address to the nation, “None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.”

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Our country’s service members, veterans, and their families have all Answered The Call to serve our nation, sacrificing much in the process. Service comes with many challenges – being apart as a reslt of deployment, the loss of a family member, adjusting to a new community and career, hitting a financial obstacle. Putting the needs of our country before their own, our military personnel and their families have always been committed to protecting us all.

If you are looking for a way to get involved in supporting our military families, we invite you to join our Answer The Call campaign.

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Fourth of July IS America’s family reunion. From our largest metropolis to our smallest hamlet, Americans gather to share meals, talk with neighbors, play games, and enjoy a day of unity and carefree fun that is too often in short supply these days. For one day, we are one family.

For those of us who serve, have served, or know someone who is serving, we know that our military is like one big family.  We call ourselves brothers and sisters, and the support we give each other is often as strong as those from the families of our birth.

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At Operation Homefront, we strive every day to honor that bond, and we believe wholeheartedly that strong and stable families help build stronger and better communities. This summer, we invite you to become part of our One Military One Family Back-To-School Brigade initiative.

Over the next 6 weeks, Operation Homefront will welcome thousands of military families into communities across the county through our Back-to-School Brigade, collecting and distributing backpacks and other school supplies.  Now in its ninth year, Back to School Brigade has become one of our favorite events of the year.

It’s our family reunion.

Want to join the fun? Here are some ways:

  • Follow us on Facebook where we will be sharing great moments around the country from our BTSB events and supply drives as well as words of welcome to new families into the community.

We wish you all a Happy Fourth of July and look forward to carrying forward the spirit of America with you in the coming weeks.

One America. One Military. One Family.

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Taking part in the Memorial Day tradition known as a “flags in” is a profound experience.

The second you step through the gates at Hampton National Cemetery in Virginia, you know you are on hallowed ground. You understand the quote “They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation.”

And if you listen, you can hear them.

In the sound of the flag, waving in the breeze. The very present sentry standing solemn watch…

 You hear their souls.

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In the rows upon rows of more than 26,000 gravestones including 638 unknowns and 7 Medal of Honor recipients …

You hear their souls.

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In the silence of soldiers filing in to honor those who have come before them….

You hear their souls.

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In the voice of the mother patiently walking beside her toddler, perhaps too young to know the full meaning of Memorial Day, but who understands they’re here for something important…

You hear their souls.

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In the unity of community coming together to honor…

You hear their souls.

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And upon leaving when the task was done, you hear…

“Thank you for remembering.”

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At 3PM Monday, wherever you are, stop in silence and listen to the souls of those who gave the last full measure of devotion.

Answer with gratitude.

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M2H05.26.16We’ve almost reached our goal of filling out this map with your messages of gratitude to our military and veterans, and we could not be more honored to read the love, pride and respect our fellow Americans have for the military and veteran community. We’ve heard from Moms and Dads, spouses, sons and daughters, friends, family, and everyday Americans, all united behind the idea of supporting those who serve our country selflessly.

With just a few more days to go, we need YOUR help to complete the map by the end of Military Appreciation Month. Share with friends and families in the states we want to hear from. Anyone can submit messages here or on any social media channels using #Mission2Honor.

Here are some of our favorite #Mission2Honor messages from the last week.

Christine from New Hampshire

I am honored to be the girlfriend of a Vietnam Veteran. All of our veterans and their families made huge sacrifices so that we can live as we do today. I thank each and every one of you. God Bless!

Carol from Oklahoma

Our family appreciates the strength and sacrifice it takes to serve our country. We respect and honor those who serve, as well as those who support them at home.

Janet from South Dakota

There are not enough words to express the thanks that our military members deserve. At home or on deployment, they give their time, and sometimes their lives in service to our country.

Charlotte from Nebraska

Thank you to all the men and women who have and are serving our country. You are appreciated. God Bless you for your sacrifices, putting your life and family on hold, to protect us. Thank you again. God Bless.

Thomas from Illinois

I have stood where you now stand (US Army, ’65-’77) and have some idea of what you are going through. Words cannot express my appreciation for your actions.

Terri from Arkansas 

Words cannot express my gratitude for the many ways the men and woman of the military impact my everyday life. I work with the families at LRAFB and am extremely impressed by their commitment to the mission each and every day. I am honored to get to know these families and spend my days with their children while they complete their mission without worry. Thank you for all you do! There will never be enough ways to express my gratitude!

Roy from Minnesota

Very proud to know you.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

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Learn more about out #Mission2Honor campaign at www.operationhomefront.net/mission2honor

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M2H map updated 051816We’re getting closer to filling out the map with your messages of gratitude to our military and veterans, but we still need your help. We’d like to see this map filled entirely by the end of Military Appreciation Month, and we need only 18 more states to reach all 50!  You can submit messages here or on your social media using #Mission2Honor.

Here are some of our favorite #Mission2Honor messages from the last week.

Deborah from Georgia

Our military, our heroes! Tell a military person you see “thanks for what you do for us unselfishly every day of the year

Robin from West Virginia

Saying thank you seems so insignificant in the face of all that you do! My family & I truly appreciate the sacrifice that both you & your families make every day to keep us safe and our Country free!

Colleen from Maryland

As a Veteran and a mom of military member there are not enough words or thanks that can be shared to everyone who has dedicated their lives, time, dedication to our loved ones who have served our country. The families have endured all that comes with the perils of war. The sacrifices, physical and emotional we all face give us the strength to be there for our families.  God Bless all and THANK YOU

Mary from Florida

Thank you so much for your service and the sacrifice you make each and every day to serve our great country!!!! You all give up time with your children and spouses, not to mention extended family, and for this, I thank you!!

I recently visited NYC for the first time and visited the 9/11 Memorial. They did a fantastic job with the Memorial and Museum, and visiting that place made me even more thankful for our military and the work you do!!

May God bless you and keep you safe!!!

Angela from South Carolina

Thank you for standing in the gap and fighting for our country! All that you do is appreciated and respected!

Wendi from Delaware

Our service members deserve accolades for their sacrifices. It’s not just deployments… That is a huge factor but there are a million other reasons we are thankful to our military. It takes a special group of people to show unwavering dedication as they support our nation’s objectives… Even when they personally may not agree.

When one person serves, their whole family sacrifices. Our military is the strongest in the world! The reason is the amazing people who enlist and the support they get from their families. We appreciate and salute everyone who has served, and everyone who sacrifices at home with them.

Gloria from Georgia

I’d like to thank all the Veterans (including my Grandfather, Uncle, Father) and Military families for their service and sacrifice everyone endures. To those whom were once neighbors / friends that with selfless support have become family. To all the Battle Buddies who still hold up to that oath. Thank you to everyone who hold our freedom to the highest, the support civilians (family & friends) give to keep the pride alive. Thank you. Not to mention all the programs that help get through trying times of deployment or separation, Operation Home front, USO, Local chapters of VFW. Our family truly appreciates it all. God Bless America. Home of the Free because of the Brave.

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Join us next week as we post more of our favorite #Mission2Honor messages showing support from a grateful nations. Learn more about out #Mission2Honor campaign at www.operationhomefront.net/mission2honor

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M2H map updated 051116We asked you to help fill out this map with messages of thanks to our military and veterans. Shout out to all of the Colorado folks, who took the top spot of most messages from a single state. Can you help spread the word to entirely fill this map by the end of Military Appreciation Month? You can submit messages here or on your social using #Mission2Honor.

Here are some of our favorite #Mission2Honor messages from the last week.

Michael from Hawaii

Much Mahalo and Aloha from Hawaii! When we think about what Military Families stand for: sacrifice, dedication, loyalty, honor, discipline, integrity, strength, faith, love, and enduring commitment – we salute you and humbly submit our deepest gratitude for all that you do to support and protect our great nation! God bless you and God bless the United States of America!

Ashley from the United Kingdom

My husband is Active Duty Air Force so from our military family to yours, past and present, thank you for your sacrifice, your time you dedicate to protecting our freedoms and your love for our great country. Land of the free because of the brave.

Audrey from Washington

Sending love, admiration, and respect to my dad Julian M., and his group of Vietnam-era, Chamorro Veterans in Tacoma, WA! That tiny island has shed more native blood for this nation than any other state or territory. God bless you all for your sacrifice

Vickie from Indiana

From the Hoosier state I personally want to send you warm wishes and thoughts to wherever you are. You are thought and prayed for every day. From Indy Blue Star Mom

Katrina from New Mexico

As a military brat and a Gold Star Sibling, I want to say thank you for all you do to keep our families safe and happy!

Laura from Colorado

I cannot say thank you enough to all the brave men and women who are serving, have served or gave the ultimate sacrifice and died for our country. On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you for your service!!

Shiloh from Missouri

Thank you for all you have and are doing.

You are the reason for our freedoms. May God bless you and your families in all you do.

Thank you.

Angela

Thank you to all of you, for all the support you give! And to my brothers and sisters in arms, thank you for always standing beside me!

Malissa

Every day of my life, all Americans lives are affected by what you do. We are able to enjoy our lives and feel safe because of what you do. Your selfless dedication and commitment to the United States of American is appreciated more than words can ever express.

Please know that I will be forever grateful for my freedoms, because of your service.

Reverend Conger from Texas

Blessings and Peace from Texas

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Join us next week as we post more of our favorite #Mission2Honor messages showing support from a grateful nation. Learn more about out #Mission2Honor campaign at www.operationhomefront.net/mission2honor

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Help us fill this map with thanks and gratitude!

As part of our #Mission2Honor campaign, we asked you to share messages of thanks to our military families. This week, it’s Thankful Thursday again, and we challenge our community to represent your state and send your message of support via the link below, or use your own social with #Mission2Honor.

 

Help us fill this map between now and Memorial Day with messages of thanks and gratitude

 

This week, we picked our favorites from one coast to another and few from states in-between:

Shon from Cali:

As a fellow military brat–in a family with several generations of us–I’m proud to be counted among you. You and your non-serving parent provide the strength for your serving parent to serve our country. Bless you all.

Taylor from Wisconsin:

Thank you veterans for all your hard work and support to all of us in America. We continue to live in a free world because of brave men and women like you!

Mindy from Iowa:

Thank you so very much for keeping us safe. Thanks for everything you do so selflessly!

I’m so thankful for each and every one of you!

God Bless and Keep You Safe!

Meg from Ohio:

Thank you for your sacrifice that keeps us free. Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers. God bless and keep you.

Mari from Maine:

To Veterans and their families… For all that you do, what you have done, and probably will do… to protect us…humans, animals, and our country… the words Thank you don’t seem enough, but they are heartfelt. So Thank You…

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Join us for Military Appreciation Month and send a message of support to honor those who have served and are continuing to serve our communities across the country, using this link or via your social using #Mission2Honor. We will continue to share your messages on our blog throughout the month.

Travelling coast to coast or just down the road this summer? Fuel up and stretch your legs at a Loves Travel Stop. Loves has been a friend and supporter of our mission to build strong, stable and secure military families.

 

 

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