September 11, 2001 changed my life in a most profound way, as I witnessed the catastrophic events of our country being attacked by terrorists with my own eyes. Being in New York City that day left images in my mind that will never be erased. My impulse was to somehow help, in any way possible. For 18 days I volunteered with the American Red Cross at Ground Zero and the Family Assistance Center. Although there was grief all around, those were some of the most rewarding moments of my life (up to that point). I learned first hand how being "willing" and "showing up" made a difference for others.
In January 2002, I worked a Civil Reserve Air Fleet Charter flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt, Germany. The plane was full of men (most of them young enough to be my own children) who were anxious to go "take out" those responsible for attacking OUR country.
It was the first time I ever worked a flight where the passengers each valued the job flight attendants perform. In talking with the soldiers, I learned about their lives back home ~ and what they were giving up to fight for freedom in other parts of the world. They each thought they were invincible and couldn't wait to take on the enemy who wanted to hurt Americans and wreak havoc on all of our lives.
It was my "birthday trip" of 2002 & I had each soldier write their names & sign a plaque for me to pray for them on their deployment. One of them jokingly asked me to "adopt" him while he was away. He probably never thought I would write or send care packages.
What started out as a small gesture on my part, grew in importance as time passed. Every year since I have "adopted" at least two soldiers. It always seems when one is coming home from deployment, I meet another to take their place. My commitment is to write them some piece of mail once a week, and send a care package at least once a month (when finances allow).
In addition, I write cards to wounded troops @ the Combat Surgical Hospital in Afghanistan & send them care packages as frequently as possible. The CSH is where they are treated before returning to their unit or being transported to a hospital in Europe or that long journey back to the states. More often than not, they are brought to Bethesda National Naval Medical Center or Brooke Army Medical Center. Frequently these brave men and women only have the articles of clothing on their backs when they enter the CSH, that is why it is so important to send items to uplift their spirits and let them know they are remembered and valued.
Through the years, one fact remains the same ~ each and every soldier should be honored for their individual sacrifices to serve our country ~ wherever they serve in the world.
Many veterans tell me they have never been thanked for the service they performed decades ago. People would spit on their uniforms when they returned from Vietnam and scoff at what they had done. That was a different time and a different era, where many of our military were drafted. They were just doing what they were ordered to do.
Whether from that generation or the men and women of today and tomorrow ~ I do what I do, to salute YOU. From the depths of my soul, I believe you are a true American Hero. That is why I have followed Gods call to honor our military, and do all that I can, so no one feels alone on the battlefield, or when they return.