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Posts Tagged ‘Milbloggers’

by Catherine McCarthy

Amidst all of the post super bowl chatter about the Raven’s win, and the best and worst commercials was this Monday morning quarterbacking from the Washington Post: When we cheer for our team, do we have to cheer for America, too?  The writer, for some unknown reason, wondered why our service members and patriotism HAVE TO be a part of every big sporting event.

Normally, I just roll my eyes at this kind of drive by piece, but for some reason, this essay struck a nerve with me. I found myself mentally responding to every sentence in the first paragraph:

Certified "Real" Veterans

These veterans appreciate it.

The customary flyover by fighter jets may be absent from this weekend’s Super Bowl; after all, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans is covered.

But the Louisiana Air National Guard 159th Fighter Wing was flying over…providing security.  Just a regular day for a lot of our service members.

CBS will cut to shots of troops watching the game overseas.

We hope every one of them enjoyed it and returns home to their family.  Some won’t.

Veterans will be recognized on the stadium’s video boards.

At least they are getting recognized…as more than a suicide statistic.

And flag imagery will abound, as will stirring renditions of the national anthem and, most likely, “America the Beautiful.”

The Newtown children’s choir singing America the Beautiful was kind of nice, I thought.  And The Star Spangled Banner is actually quite hard to sing as written.  Two competitors sang it a capella at my daughter’s swim meet last Wednesday night.  When that beautiful soprano voice hit that high note, I had goose bumps. Not something I get when I hear “All the Single Ladies.”

It is so tempting, and would be all too easy, to go down Professor Jenkins essay piece by piece and respond.  But those of us who are or have been serving for any length of time have been down this road before. Been there, heard that.

But, why she is scratching her head and bemoaning the mystery of all of the “militaristic rituals” is beyond me.  That concept dates back to the Greeks (Olympics, anyone?) and further.

What? No VIP boxes?

These guys were hardcore, and didn’t have Beyonce. Plus, Zeus was watching.

Has the professor who wrote “The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television” ever seen one of the numerous hour long recaps of prior Super Bowls and big games?  The ominous music as they flash to the teams lined up at the line of scrimmage, the slow motion clashing at the hand off.  The description of players as “warriors”, even going so far as the close up of bloodied and bruised fingers and stained jerseys.  Games are referred to in glorious voiceovers as “wars” and “battles”.  With football being arguably a 100% American sport on top of it, it isn’t hard to see why the patriotic theme runs throughout the big game.

That’s a theme.  Not political statement.  And while I reject rudeness as a general rule, what the athletes held up as being mistreated for their stands did was a political statement.  I may not like pink, but I don’t go to my friend’s daughter’s birthday party and start railing on gender roles because of her choice of pink decorations.  File that under “tact” and “no brainer.”

Party on, America!

This was a pretty cool theme to a January party.

I am going to assume that the Professor is quite learned, and that none of what I have written above is news to her, so it begs the question of the purpose of her piece.  I’ll leave that up to each reader to decide.

Not A Gimmick

Certified “real.”

In a few days, I’m going to be at Old Dominion University watching my daughter, her teammates, and many others compete in a huge meet that will decide if they go on to the State Championship.  The flag will be flown.  The National Anthem will be played.  I guarantee that behind the blocks, at that moment, will be a teenager with an aching heart for a parent who won’t be there to see this moment.  There will be veterans there for whom the National anthem reminds them of friends lost, the pain of injuries, but the sweetness of watching these children live free. Men and women in uniform (we call them parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and friends).  Some coming off duty, some going on, some on their lunch break.   It is not “vaudeville silencing political dissent”, “gimmickry” or a “cheap thrill.”

I live in a heavily military area, with major bases.  For many in this area, the words “war”, “veteran” and “service member” are not abstract terms, or political statements, they’re realities.  The weekend before the “theatrics” that so irritate the Professor, Hampton buried a native son.  KIA in Afghanistan.  25 years old.  Folks stood in sub freezing weather, on snow covered sidewalks to pay respects as the procession went by. My children go to school daily with children whose parents are on their umpteenth deployment. Their field trips are to places like Yorktown Battlefield.  You can’t throw a rock in this area without hitting a Civil War site.  My daughter regularly competes at Hampton University, where you can still visit the Emancipation Oak. It also happens to be in sight of the major VA Regional Medical Center.  Look a little further and you can see Ft Monroe.  Real history.  Real reminders of who we are and the reason we can get up every morning and not be afraid. Rough men, and women, have and will continue to stand at the ready.

Something happened here in 1781.  There's even a Mel Gibson movie about it.

The battles are our history. Something happened here in 1781. There’s even a Mel Gibson movie about it.

My challenge to the Professor is this: dig deeper.  Look beyond Iraq, Afghanistan, September 11, 2001. Talk to a military family, a veteran, a wounded warrior.  Might take some effort as we tend to look like everyone else. We hide in plain sight, so to speak.  Even in crowds at the Super Bowl.

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We know you’ve been waiting, and here they are! The 100 semi-finalists,  20 representing each branch of Service, that are up for the 2013 Military Child of the Year Award:

AIR FORCE:

Benjamin H. – Age 16 – Roy, Wash.
Matthew W. – Age 17 – McGuire AFB, N.J.
Mark N. – Age 17 – Fairchild AFB, Wash.
Elizabeth U. – Age 17 – Andrews AFB, Md.
Azalee M. – Age 17 – Biloxi, Miss.
Loxley P. – Age 10 – Holloman AFB, N.M.
Jared M. – Age 14 – Anchorage, Alaska
Cassidy G. – Age 17 – Navarre, Fla.
Amoreh A. – Age 9 – Columbus, Ohio
Caitlin H. – Age 16 – Yorktown, Va.
Joseph N. – Age 11 – Carvel Beach, Md.
Devin G. – Age 10 – Edmond, Okla.
Ryan W. – Age 9 – Norway
Carley C. – Age 12 – Lithia, Fla.
Kaylee W. – Age 17 – Goldsboro, N.C.
Derrick W. – Age 13 – Poquoson, Va.
Katelyn R. – Age 13 – Mountain Home, Idaho
Kinsley C. – Age 8 – Montgomery, Ala.
Bree W. – Age 11 – Sheppard AFB, Texas
Edward V. – Age 9 – Las Vegas, Nev.

ARMY:

James M. – Age 14 – Fort Meyer, Va.
Ben H. – Age 13 – South Korea
DeAnna T. – Age 10 – Fort Knox, Ky.
Riley C. – Age 9 – Wahiawa, Hawaii
Consuela T. – Age 8 – Killeen, Texas
Elizabeth C. – Age 18 – Bel Air, Md.
Loran C. – Age 18 – El Paso, Texas
Isabelle B. – Age 13 – Harker Heights, Texas
Alyssa C. – Age 12 – Fort Hood, Texas
Nicole D. – Age 16 – Fort Lee, Va.
Hunter H. – Age 11 – Valrico, Fla.
Caitlyn H. – Age 9 – Adams, N.Y.
Madeline S. – Age 13 – Frederick, Md.
Kimokeo W. – Age 11 – Egypt
Karlie B. – Age 13 – Colorado Springs, Colo.
Trinity M. – Age 11 – Eatonville, Wash.
Natalia S. – Age 11 – Clarksville, Tenn.
Haleigh G. – Age 17 – Chesterfield, Va.
Amari B. – Age 10 – Fort Sill, Okla.
Leilani R. – Age 9 – Fort Hood, Texas

COAST GUARD:

Isaak B. – Age 11 – Union City, Tenn.
Isabel B. – Age 8 – Union City, Tenn.
Quinn C. – Age 9 – Mililani, Hawaii
Elijah D. – Age 10 – Saint Ignace, Mich.
Madison D. – Age 8 – Honolulu, Hawaii
Reino G. – Age 14 – Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Dacey H. – Age 17 – Key West, Fla.
Devin J. – Age 18 – Cransberry Township, Pa.
Madeline K. – Age 12 – Beaufort, N.C.
Israel L. – Age 13 – Key West, Fla.
Keandra M. – Age 14 – Bellingham, Wash.
Peter M. – Age 9 – Kodiak, Alaska
Austin N. – Age 15 – Wilmington, N.C.
Andrea P. – Age 13 – Rio Grande, P.R.
Fabian R. – Age 11 – Siminole, Wash.
Reagan S. – Age 12 – Sequim, Wash.
Jerome S. – Age 12 – Newport, Wash.
Hannah T. – Age 17 – Cape May, N.J.
Amanda W. – Age 18 – McGuire AFB, N.J.
Matthew Y. – Age 17 – Fairhope, Ala.

MARINE CORPS:

Victoria A. – Age 12 – Oceanside, Calif.
Chaise B. – Age 10 – Oceanside, Calif.
Jacob C. – Age 11 – Kailua, Hawaii
Dillon G. – Age 18 – Fredericksburg, Va.
Matthew G. – Age 12 – Bristow, Va.
Justin G. – Age 14 – Oceanside, Calif.
Brianna H. – Age 17 – San Clemente, Calif.
Mitchell J. – Age 17 – San Diego, Calif.
Michael-Logan J. – Age 13 – Kailua, Hawaii
Penelope K. – Age 15 – Japan
Kelly K. – Age 17 – Meridian, Miss.
Brandy L. – Age 12 – Yuma, Ariz.
Emma M. – Age 8 – Richlands, N.C.
Abigail P. – Age 17 – Bahrain
Brigid R. – Age 8 – Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Salvatore S. – Age 16 – Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Madeline T. – Age 13 – Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Kassandra V. – Age 8 – Richlands, N.C.
Darian W. – Age 12 – Oceanside, Calif.
Isaabel Z. – Age 10 – Suffolk, Va.

NAVY:
Taylor B. – Age 17 – Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Alexander B. – Age 17 – Grand Forks, N.D.
Ruth C. – Age 13 – Bremerton, Wash.
Ryan C. – Age 17 – Colorado Springs, Colo.
Isabella G. – Age 14 – Virginia Beach, Va.
Jamie H. – Age 12 – Coronado, Calif.
Mina J. – Age 16 – Chesapeake, Va.
Sierra J. – Age 10 – California, Md.
Daniel K. – Age 13 – Lake Stevens, Wash.
Jack L. – Age 12 – Corpus Christi, Texas
Adriel M. – Age 14 – Poulsbo, Wash.
Andrea P. – Age 9 – Cheasapeake, Va.
Robert P. – Age 10 – Virginia Beach, Va.
Mekenzie P. – Age 12 – Great Lakes, Ill.
Luna P. – Age 13 – Virginia Beach, Va.
Jackson S. – Age 14 – Coronado, Calif.
Magnus T. – Age 10 – Elk Grove, Calif.
Skyler W. – Age 8 – Lemoore, Calif.
Michael W. – Age 9 – Virginia Beach, Va.
Tyler Z. – Age 17 – Suffolk, Va.

Learn more by visiting the MCOY page at www.militarychildoftheyear.org.

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We’re wrapping up our series covering the Home Depot Foundation Hometown Visits to our nation’s heroes in uniform.  Check out Part I, Part II, and Part III if you haven’t had a chance.

She may be a Mom 24/7, but 247Moms blogger Trisha Novotny  jumped at the chance to decorate a tree for a hero when Team Home Depot visited the Jennings family as part of their Celebration of Service 2012.  Little did she know that in giving this gift, she would get an even bigger one in return.

homedepot247moms

Santa’s Little Helper

Before the laughter and lights, Trisha talked with the soldier, a wounded warrior, about his injuries, how they have impacted his family, and yet, remained incredibly positive about the future. “Each time I have been part of a Celebration of Service project with Home Depot I gain a greater appreciation and honor for our Veterans and those still serving today – They are true heroes who have sacrificed, given up and truly know the meaning of serving for the sake of others.”

After a delightful evening of holiday fun, Trisha and her boys shared the true spirit of the season. “As we drove away my boys and I discussed this is what Christmas is about serving and giving to others, making new friends and honoring those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”

What a wonderful lesson for all of us.

homedepothandmadehome2Over at the HandmadeHome, blogger couple Jamin and Ashley Mills were thrilled. “We absolutely adore our veterans and their wonderful service to our country. Last week, we were blessed to take a little bit of Christmas cheer and goodies from Home Depot and Operation Homefront” to the Clark Family .

“We felt honored that these super kind people opened up their home to us and let us help spread a little Christmas cheer.”

Thank You, Jamin and Ashley, for representing how so many of us feel towards our military, veteran and wounded warrior families.

Last but certainly not least, we land in Grand Rapids Michigan with my Dale from Military Avenue and the Purvis family.  The Military Avenue folks have been my Twitter buddies and I did a little happy dance to see they were a part of Home Depot’s Hometown Visits.

Among a living room “covered in pictures and memories from his multiple deployments and service to our country”,…

homedepotmilitaryavenue2

….a peek at (possibly) next year’s holiday style trend:

Super Model!

Super Model!

She makes it work.

“Throughout my time with the family we shared plenty of laughs and a few serious and emotional topics.”, writes Dale Kissinger, the Military Avenue blogger. That’s military life, though, and it is a full one.

But these are the faces we remember:

homedepotmilitaryavenue3

I am so blessed, as part of Operation Homefront’s Social Media Team, to witness, every day, the inspirational, the brave, the strength, the hope, and the love that defines the lives of the men and women (and their families) who pledge their lives in defense of our nation.  It is a great day when I get to share with you how our communities give back.  I hope you have enjoyed our recap of the Hometwon Visits with the Home Depot Foundation.  To learn more about their pledge to donate $50 million in 3 years to veterans projects and support, or to learn about opportunities for service in your area all year round, visit www.homedepotfoundation.org

Happy Holidays!

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I love the holiday season and the stories of giving, love and kindness that renew our belief in the true goodness of others.  It’s even better when they involve a few of my favorite things: military families, Christmas and service in our community.  Here are three more Holiday Hometown visits with Team Home Depot, Operation Homefront, and military bloggers from around the USA.

Gail Wilson of My Repurposed Life brought her decorating expertise to the Lake Family home at Ft Knox.  She made a really cute video

Admit it, you let out an “Awww” when the little boy kissed the gingerbread house kit.  Priceless.

homedepotbeneathmyheart2

A star, a star, shining in the night…

Beneath My Heart blogger Traci Hutcherson describes her visit with her local veteran family perfectly: “..nothing was more beautiful than seeing 11 strangers spend a couple of hours together, sharing stories, decorating a tree, enjoying the season, and honoring the service of our Veterans.” 

Her son Jonathan added to the holiday cheer by breaking out his guitar and playing, “Silent Night”

Rock Star!

Rock Star!

We also learned an important lesson: when you ask a young man whether or not he wants to “put on the skirt”…be sure to clarify you mean the TREE SKIRT.

Simply Kierste blogger Kierste Wade learned a lot about Army life, Iraq and that girls need lots of shoes on her visit with veteran Quinton, his wife Jennifer, and their three year old daughter.

After fighting health issues, Quintin is now retired and looking forward to his future.  One that is a little brighter today thanks to the Home Depot Foundation.

Thank you for your service, Quintin!

Thank you for your service, Quintin!

Be sure to come back in the next few days and hear about the final hometown Celebration of Service visits with Team Home Depot.  In the meantime, check out these ladies blogs for some great holiday decorating and celebrating tips.

Simply Kierste

My Repurposed Life

Beneath My Heart

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Still not a Poet Laureate (see Part I of our series-linked),but that’s okay, because still more bloggers have written about their time as ambassadors of cheer with the Home Depot Foundation, Operation Homefront, and some special families who had their homes decked out in holiday cheer as part of Celebration of Service 2012.

homedepotdecorchick

Team Depot with Decor Chick blogger, Emily, and J&R family

With a handle of DécorChick!, you knew our families would be in good hands with blogger Emily Allison.  How incredible is that her time with Celebration of Service, which she calls “life changing” ends with a holiday visit to give back to those who give so much to protect our country?

Who here would be surprised that a military family you came to say “Thank You” to would send you away with homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows as a thank you to you.

We aren’t.  That’s just how they roll, isn’t it?

homedepotinmyownstylePADE

“In My Own Style” blogger Diane Henkler and Home Depot visited with Air Force Captain Marion R. and kids as part of a special Celebration of Service event. (Operation Homefront PA/DE)

I let out a squeal of delight when I saw that the elves made a stop in MY home state of Pennsylvania (If you haven’t had a chance to visit Bethlehem at Christmas Time, put it on your bucket list.  Trust me).

“In My Own Style” blogger Diane Henkler wrote of her visit with Air Force Captain Marion R. and kids , “You are what makes this country and our Military strong”….and we couldn’t agree more.  Marion has been in the service for 27 years, enlisting back in 1985.  She’s also Mom to three amazing kids who understand that sometimes, Mom can’t be there for those special days.

But not this day, and thanks to Diane, the Home Depot Foundation, and our fabulous PA/DE Field Office, they’ll have a wonderful memory to share for years to come.  Check out Diane’s slideshow of her visit.  It is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.

homedepotlovelycraftyhome2Meanwhile, down in North Carolina, even the family dogs were excited to see “ Lovely Craft Home” blogger  Rachael Evans and the Home Depot/Operation Homefront crew .
Look, doggie kisses:

How timely that they arrived just as the family had returned from a Christmas parade?

homedepotlovelycraftyhome3

After a whirlwind of lights, ornaments and wreaths, the perfect moment of a family around the tree (including wrangled dogs):

Joyce-family-with-tree

We’ll be back with Part III and even more stories of giving back to those who give so much to us, our military and veteran families.  In the meantime, check out the incredible initiative and commitment of the Home Depot Foundation to our nations veterans.

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Twas the weeks before Christmas

And all through the land

Home Depot Elves were ready

To give MilFamilies a hand…

Well, I tried…

Instead, let’s hear from some much more erudite folks who joined Team Home Depot over the last couple of weeks as they visited military families and veterans around the country draped in tinsel and garland and spirit galore as part of The Home Depot Foundation’s Celebration of Service 2012.  We hope their stories touch you as much as their visits touched our families.

Deja "was mesmerized by the glittery ornaments and all the lights on the tree"

Deja “was mesmerized by the glittery ornaments and all the lights on the tree”

The best part for Army Wife and author of “The New Normal” blog Kris Ligenfelter of her visit with Army Specialist Shamika Pliars and family? 

“…watching the family together put the finishing touch on the tree…the star at the top. This is always my favorite moment in decorating our tree at home and we have such a tradition surrounding it, so I loved watching this family make their own tradition of placing their star on top.”

You can’t put a price on sharing a moment like that!

homedepotnotjustahousewife

Blogger Stacy Risenmay and kids with the Bennett Family in Utah.

Stacy Risenmay is definitely “Not Just A Housewife”.  She has volunteered with the Home Depot Foundation quite a bit, but was thrilled to hear that a project was coming to her hometown in Utah.   Not only that, but the veteran she was bringing Christmas cheer to?  A high school classmate!  Talk about providence!

You have to head over to her blog to see the cards her sons made for their visit with the “real life soldier”.  Too precious.

Can we get some of these?

Can we get some of these?

We want to know the “Witty Little Secret” behind the Ginger Molasses cookies blogger and military wife Lori Volkman brought with her on the Team Depot visit to SSgt Jimmy McEwing and his family of Vancouver WA.   See the pic? Tell us you don’t want to know either.

Grab some nog and cookies and settle in to hear not just a Christmas story, but a bonus love story too.  Hint: a care package, a note, and destiny.

Come back for Part II and more through next week.  Special thanks to Lori Volkman of Witty Little SecretKris Ligenfelter of The New Normal, and Stacy Risenmay of Not Just a Housewife for your service to our country, to your communities, and to our military and veteran families. You can see more photos from their visits on our Pinterest Board.

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