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Posts Tagged ‘America’

madelinemorlinomcoy2016Through three military permanent change of station relocations and 32 months of her father’s deployments, Madeleine Morlino has lived a life of giving back to the country and to the community, consistent with the foundational values and love of country upon which she was raised. Madeleine was adopted from China when she was 11 months old. Believing fervently that her family made her life better than it would have been had she remained in China, Madeleine has devoted her life to keeping America and her community strong.

Just about every day, Madeleine accomplishes something for America — one veteran, indeed one citizen, at a time.

Motivated by the challenges her family faced as her father transitioned from the Air Force to civilian life, Madeleine set out to ease the transition for other service members. She conceived, organized and led a job expo for veterans in her hometown. She and her colleagues on the committee that planned the event successfully attracted national and local businesses that were poised to offer veterans meaningful employment.

Driven to share her love of country and inspire others, Madeleine joined with her 18-year-old sister, Eleanor, in creating a Young Americans for Freedom group at her high school. Under Madeleine’s leadership, membership in the organization increased 300 percent from the year before, attracting a diverse group of young people to join the effort to spread the word about the uniqueness of the U.S. Constitution and the greatness of our nation as a whole.

Despite also being involved with student body government, Model UN, and a host of other volunteer activities, Madeleine still finds time for orchestra and cross country running. Perhaps we see a clue to the fuel that fires her in her favorite quote, by Og Mandino: “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.”

Madeleine’s love of country and call to serve will continue after she graduates, as she is now a member of the U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2020 cadets.

Madeleine is the daughter of Kerry Ann Morlino and retired Air Force Master Sgt. Leonard Morlino of Moorestown, N.J.

 

This week, we will be shining a spotlight on each of our Military Child of the Year Award recipients, as well as the first ever recipient of the Operation Homefront-Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Award. Be sure to check back daily or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for updates. In addition, throughout the months of April and May, we invite you to show your appreciation by sending a message of thanks and sharing #Mission2Honor with your friends and family. Follow this link to share your message, or post your own message on social media using #Mission2Honor.

Our heartfelt thanks to our presenting sponsor United Technologies, and all of our 2016 Military Child of the Year Award sponsors, for making this annual award one of the highlights of our year.  Your support allows us to bring the stories of our military families to the forefront, making a difference in raising awareness of the challenges they face in protecting our nation.

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Logistics convoyHow far are you willing to go?

“For what?” you might ask.

Not ‘for what,’ but ‘for whom.’

How far are you willing to go for your fellow Americans?

When we think about laying it all on the line, most of us would say it’s easy to do when you think about your child, or your wife, or maybe even your beloved Golden Retriever that’s slowing down with hip dysplasia from years of chasing the kids upstairs.

But what about a complete stranger? Someone you’re unlikely to ever meet? Should it matter? Ask the heroes among us, and they answer with a resounding ‘YES.’. Those are the men and woman who enlist in one of our military branches of service and promise to defend our way of life…even those who hold different values, ideologies or faith, yet are bound together by one simple word: America.

And when you ask them, “How far are you willing to go?” They say, “All the way…even to death.”

That, friends, is laying it all on the line. That is what it means to answer the call to serve in our military.

When they sign up to serve, they agree to give it all, if needed.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of the young 20-year-old soldier, half a world away, who focuses on his mission, but his heart longs for home. He aches to return to the rolling plains of his home state. He can’t wait to play a pick-up game of basketball with his brother and his buddies when he gets back.

HomecomingHe is willing to put himself in a place that most Americans will never see, let alone comprehend, and possibly lose it all.

Why is he there?

The answer to that question could go on for days and would include words like honor, courage, and integrity.

But really it comes down to this – they answered the call.

 

 

He is willing to lay it all on the line because he loves his family, his friends, and his country.

And there are many like him. And today, we salute that uncommon kind of man and woman. And we remember those who paid the ultimate price.

Thank you for your service. You are not forgotten.

 

ATC-launch-photoWhen we think of those who serve, we, at Operation Homefront, are honored to answer the call as well when we step in to help military families get through difficult times and help build strong, stable and secure military families. With the holiday season and colder weather, nearly upon us, our requests for assistance will increase. You can answer the call too. If you’d like to honor those who are deployed and their families, the ones who are willing to lay it all on the line, consider giving a gift today.

 

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september112015blogimage

 

Sept. 11, 2001. In an instant, our sense of invulnerability was gone. An enemy attack here at home, only rivaled by Pearl Harbor 60 years before. Nearly 3,000 lives were lost, each one linked to a family, a home, a good life.

Americans have an uncanny ability to turn grief into motivation. We took a heavy blow on that day, but it was nowhere near a knockout. Why? Because of our American spirit. It is impossible to quantify or calculate or defeat.

Our ancestors had it when they came here seeking a new land of opportunity. Our forefathers fought for it and scribed it between the lines of the Declaration of Independence. The early pioneers carried it with them across wild plains and jagged mountains. The Civil War forced us to look ourselves in the eye and give everyone the right to claim it. The best and brightest forged a future of creativity and industry, inspired by it. The greatest generation had it in spades through the wars of the early 20th century. And we could go on and on.

Only 14 years separate us from that fateful day. 5,113 days. And every day, we’ve relied on our American spirit in one form or another.

For our military community, the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks meant 13 years of war. More than 6,000 brave Americans lost their lives in a combat zone while more than 52,000 have been wounded in action. Yet the American spirit persists. It’s with the soldier halfway across the world as he focuses on his mission. It’s with the family waiting for mom to come home safely from deployment. It keeps a wounded hero company in his most difficult hours. It spurs an entire nation to patriotism and pride in those who sacrifice so much for our freedom. It is the backbone of who we are.

Whether it’s defined as tenacity, gumption, chutzpah, initiative or plain old orneriness, our American spirit leads us forward. Deep within us is the desire to rise up and reject an act of hatred meant to crush us.

It is this passion that is the force behind movements like the 9/11 Day, the largest annual day of charitable engagement in the United States. Each year more than 40 million Americans observe September 11 by performing good deeds that help others.

How will you observe Sept. 11? Pause for a moment to reflect on that day, not so long ago. And never forget those fellow Americans and their families who paid a terrible price. Then, make a difference. Volunteer. Give back. There is no better way to honor those whose memory will stay with us forever.

At Operation Homefront, thousands of military families come to us to help them get through tough times so they can move forward to a stable and more secure future. We couldn’t do it without help from our generous donors. You can give too, and join the national effort to turn tragedy into an opportunity to shine.

 

 

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The Fun.

Is there anything better than a warm Fourth of July? A dip in a pool or lake. Finding the perfect spot on the beach or in the local park. A spontaneous game of horseshoes or corn hole. Concerts and fireworks in small towns from coast to coast. The anticipation as dusk falls and the sparklers come out. The magic of summer in the air.

Tip: Cool Whip stands up well in the heat.

Tip: Cool Whip stands up well in the heat.

The Food.

Fourth of July cookouts and potlucks are, hands down, the best of the best. The deviled eggs, corn on the cob, fresh strawberries and watermelon, and always something special from the family Cool Whip dessert maestro. The burgers, the dogs, the smoked ribs. Messy and delicious and glorious.

 

The Moments.

Everyone seems to come out of their homes (and their shells) a bit more on the Fourth. Time slows down as the lawn chairs and blankets and coolers are laid out. We look at our phones a bit less and people a bit more.

The Promise.

There is something about the promise of our Declaration of Independence, and new beginnings that resonates with us, even today. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

One Nation.

The Unity.

It is inspiring that we get to see in others what drives so many of us to serve, the belief in that promise. All of America is decked out in red, white and blue, and we are reminded that there is more that unites us than divides us. With every salute, parade, and patriotic song, we are reminded that this gift of freedom, this experiment of democracy, is so dear to us that even to this day, young men and women dedicate their lives to protect it.

The Hope.

Even though it seems this time of year brings a new round of potential threats and calls to be aware of the dangers in the world, we pause to think about what would have happened had 56 men let their fear override their belief in the future of a free and independent state. We have been through worse as a nation, and have endured. We will continue to do so. Are we perfect? No. But the promise and the unity give us the hope. Hope will defeat fear every time.

The Renewal.

As the day ends, darkness falls and the first starburst explodes in the sky, we can reflect on the time together, away from work and troubles, and remember that America is still a strong nation. And, thanks to the legacy of those who declared our independence, those who died for it, and those who continue to protect it today…we are free.

The Team at Operation Homefront wish everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July!

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587px-Omaha_Beach_wounded_soldiers,_1944-06-06The call. They have answered the call since before we were even officially a nation. They answered the call to form a union and then a century later, to preserve a union. They are our service members.

They have answered the call to go to foreign shores: Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently West Africa. They go to fight enemies, defend freedom, and provide emergency response and crisis intervention for those facing unbearable odds. They lay at rest in Arlington, and in small towns, and in places with names like Aisne-Marnes, Belleau Wood. 17,000 in Manila, almost 3,000 in North Africa.

Over 80,000[1] remain Missing in Action.

On average, 22 a day are lost to the ghosts of war that came home with them.

We at Operation Homefront answer calls every day from active duty and wounded, ill or injured veterans. They reach out through email and our social channels. Others reach out for them, becoming a voice when they can’t find theirs. We understand the high cost exacted from service to country. And we are honored to be the one they turn to when they need help. That we can do so is in no small part because there are those who answer the call in other ways. Through donations, volunteering, raising awareness.

Battle-BuddiesWe are dedicating the rest of 2014 to those brave men and women now and over the centuries who have honored us with their service by honoring theirs with our #AnswertheCall campaign.

From January through October 2014, Operation Homefront provided over $4 million in emergency financial assistance to military families, a 23 percent increase from the same time last year. We are meeting more needs than ever, which is why we need your help. Help us #AnswerTheCall this #GivingTuesday

How?

GIVE: Visit our special Answer the Call page for ways to show your support for our military men and women, our wounded warriors and their families. Tomorrow, Giving Tuesday, we’ll have a special announcement on how you can have an even bigger impact on meeting the needs of our military and wounded warrior families. Be sure to check in with us on our Facebook page and blog.

RAISE AWARENESS: Tell us why you will answer the call on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We will showcase messages on our Get Social page. Be sure to use #AnswerTheCall.

VOLUNTEER: Without the dedicated support of volunteers, we would not be able to accomplish our mission. From our special event volunteers to our staff-level volunteers, each person makes a life-changing and immeasurable valuable gift to our families. Find your local Field Office at www.operationhomefront.net

Military life is challenging, and the holiday season can be even more so. Help us let our military know they are not forgotten, and that when they need us, we will be there. Answer the call now.

[1] http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/summary_statistics/index.htm

 

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By Catherine McCarthy

Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

-Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, 1883

On October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland unveiled what would become the quintessential symbol of freedom recognized around the world: the Statue of Liberty.  Seventeen years later, Emma Lazarus’s poem would be inscribed in a plaque at the base of the statue, becoming America’s invitation to the oppressed and downtrodden of the world to come and start anew.

As quoted in the New York Times, statue historian Barry Moreno explains “It was,” he recalled, “built to pay tribute to the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence, American democracy, and democracy throughout the world. It honored the end of slavery, honored the end of all sorts of tyranny and also friendship between France and America.”Only later, “letters were written home, word of mouth, taught people that you would see this wonderful goddess in New York Harbor when you arrived in America to welcome you.”[1]

My grandfather, Petr, was one of the huddled masses, gazing upon this symbol of hope as he arrived at Ellis Island after being liberated by Allied troops from a German “re-education camp” during World War I. As a young teen in the Ukraine, he and his friend had been captured by Austro-Hungarian troops when they wandered away from their village, curious to see the battle raging not far from their homes.  They were sent to a camp where young men like them were trained to be returned and act as spies for the Central Powers.  But before their plans could be put in action, Allied troops advanced on the camp and liberated my grandfather and the others who had been stolen from their homes.

As the Allied troops interviewed the boys to find where they were from, they were surprised to hear my grandfather say, “Rhode Island”.  My grandfather had been born on American soil, just prior to his parents returning to the Ukraine, and he misinterpreted their question as where he was born. Because the war still raged in the Ukraine, and because he was an American citizen, my grandfather was put on a ship to America.

He arrived on American soil virtually penniless, and because he was a citizen, he was not eligible for the assistance that was provided to new immigrants.  He immediately sought work, and became a window washer on skyscrapers.  I can still remember visiting him and my grandmother and playing with the red wax pencils he used to mark the windows that they washed.  But what I remember the most was my grandfather’s fierce belief in the privilege of living in America.  To not live in fear.  To have the opportunity to dream of endless possibilities, and to have the chance to see them realized.  He knew what it meant to not have hope.  When he said we lived in the “greatest country in the world”, he meant it, heart and soul.

Over the years, I have heard many stories from those who fled from the horrors of World War II, the purges of Stalin, the Holocaust.  Some stories I wish I could erase from my memory, so disturbing in their description on how we can dehumanize our fellow man.  But each and every one of those tales reinforces that no matter what our current troubles in America, we don’t have to fear the knock in the night, that guns will be placed in the hands of our 8 year sons with instructions to kill people different from them, or that we’ll have to hear the wailing of infants dying of starvation.

As we celebrate our troops returning from Iraq this holiday season, we must remember that there are always those still “yearning to breathe free”.  In Afghanistan, the Sudan, Somalia, North Korea.   That our enduring belief that men deserve to live free threatens those who seek to control and degrade others, and that our brave men and women of the United States Military stand watch every day around the world to send the message that we are not afraid, and that we stand ready to welcome and support those who desire to live free.

Happy 125th Birthday to the Statue of Liberty.  May you always be a source of hope for our sisters and brothers who suffer and dream of a better world.


[1] Oct. 28, 1886 | Statue of Liberty Is Unveiled, New York Times Learning Network, October 28, 2011.

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