By Brian Scoles, Regional Chief Public Affairs Officer
The American Red Cross has just launched its annual Holiday Mail for Heroes Campaign and I am excited about it! As a veteran of the United States Armed Services, this campaign in particular means a lot to me.
I can tell you with certainty that there is almost nothing better for a service member’s morale than to know he is not forgotten, especially when he is far from home during the holidays. Even though a soldier is busy serving his country and is usually surrounded by other soldiers, there are down times, both in relation to physical time (hours, minutes, seconds), but also emotional downtime as well. It is easy to feel isolated when facing the extreme hardship and uncertainty of war.
During my enlistment, I served in three different military campaigns: Operations Desert Shield, Storm and Provide Comfort. My fondest war-time memory is that of a pen-pal, a Connecticut sixth-grader, whom I met through a series of cards and letters. I almost didn’t have pen-pal because the original letter, tattered and dirty, was kicked under a corner table of the mail room. I just happened to notice it on my way out to post for duty one night.
It took a while to respond to the letter due to the long 16-hour shifts that were intermittently interrupted by scud missile barrages and subsequent sweeps of the runway looking for FOD (foreign objects, debris) that could damage allied aircraft staging from the airbase. As the evening became quiet once again, and I settled back into my defensive fighting position, I pulled out a flashlight and the letter. In it was a picture of my new pen-pal and a letter of thanks for protecting her and our country.
About every two weeks thereafter, I would receive a letter postmarked from somewhere in Connecticut. My pen-pal would send home-made crossword puzzles and word searches, and I would learn a little more about her and her family and friends. She would ask questions about what the war was like and how my days were, and I would answer as much as I could.
Once the war ended for me and I returned home, I arranged a time to meet my pen-pal and thank her in person for all she had done to boost my morale. I took a ferry across the Long Island Sound from New York to Connecticut and spent a few hours with her and her family; such a good memory.
Well, that’s a small part of my story and a large part of why I can’t wait to work with local businesses, community organizations, colleges and schools to get cards signed and sent to our military veterans and the servicemen and women who serve overseas, or are rehabilitating from injuries in medical centers around the globe.
Join me in writing our troops past and present. Here is a list of scheduled Holiday Mail for Heroes card signing events:
Euro Auto Festival, BMW, Saturday, October 20, 10:00AM-2:00 PM
Harley Davidson Bike Rally, Harley Davidson of Greenville, Saturday, October 13, 1:00-5:00 PM
Greenville Road Warriors game, Bi-Lo Center, Saturday, November 10, 7:00-9:00 PM
Rascal Flatts Concert, Bi-Lo Center, Thursday, October 18, 6:00-9:00 PM.
Hope to see you there!