A few days from now, Fourth of July celebrations will be held in small towns and big cities all across America. Bunting will be everywhere. Parades will feature bands, antique cars, kids on bikes, and veterans of many conflicts… all marching proudly to show their patriotism and love of country.
At the same time, halfway around the world, 170,000 brave young men and women will demonstrate their patriotism in another way: by putting their lives at risk to defend everything America stands for.
As we gather in our backyards for cookouts and picnics, our troops overseas will grab an MRE and head out to patrol crowded streets and back alleys where insurgents continue to lurk.
As we play softball or watch a parade, they'll spend their afternoons in harm's way: a "place" where rounding any corner can mean a deadly ambush… where stopping any car or passerby can trigger an explosion and sudden death.
As we "ooh" and "aah" at fireworks displays, they'll duck live rounds and remain alert for the sudden rush of an incoming rocket-propelled grenade.
Today, the nation's economic concerns continue to push the ongoing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan off the front pages; some Americans may even have forgotten about the brave men and women who are doing their job overseas, but counting the days till it's their turn to share the home-town celebrations with their loved ones and friends.
However, the USO hasn't forgotten; we've already geared up to provide extra services to our troops… not just for July 4th, but throughout the weeks and months ahead. With American troops spread all over the globe…
Meeting these special challenges, on top of all the everyday services we provide to our troops and their families, will take a huge effort, cost a lot of money, and stretch our resources to the limit. Many people are surprised to learn that the USO is not a government agency; in fact, we rely on individual citizens who want to support the troops, and who always seem to stand behind us at the times we need them most.
- We must recruit more stars to man our Celebrity Entertainment Tours to combat zones… not just to entertain, but also to shake hands with our GIs and say face-to-face, "Thanks! We're here for you. You're the real star!"
- We need to buy more pre-paid phone cards, so our troops can call home for free whenever they get a chance, even from a pay phone in Baghdad.
- We must staff up and supply our overseas Centers and Mobile Canteens; with the War in Iraq now in its sixth long year, they'll have to stay open extra hours to provide our guys and gals in uniform with a cold Coke, a warm smile, and a chance… even if just for a few moments… to escape from the War and enjoy a taste of home.
Now is one of those times. Please send your tax-deductible donation today, to help the USO make certain that every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman around the world knows that the folks back home are thinking of them, and that we honor their dedication, their heroism, and their sacrifice.
As Americans, we count on them. They count on us. I hope we can count on you.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
A 4th of July Message from the USO.
My first show since my surgery. With Blake Zolfo.
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