From USA Today:
On Christmas Day, when I awake to a warm home and my son’s face, I will think of each young man and woman whose parents won’t see them this holiday season. I am deeply appreciative for what our servicemembers and their loved ones sacrifice on a daily basis. I am in awe of our troops’ courage and selflessness.
And from Kyle-Anne Shiver:
A few days ago, I had the profound privilege of speaking at length with the founder of Operation Gratitude, an entirely volunteer citizen organization who has had perhaps the loudest voice in getting our message to our troops in every theater of the War against the IslamoFascists and their terror armies. Of all the groups mentioned for praise by our troops, Operation Gratitude seems known and appreciated by all, from every rank.
Carolyn Blashek, Operation Gratitude’s driving force, is an amazing woman, I must say, possessed not only of great care for every individual soldier, but also of boundless energy, focus and fortitude. She also must have quite a way with persuasion; she has raised a veritable army of givers, individual and corporate alike.
From her living room in Encino, California she began a tiny enterprise in the wake of her post-9/11 experiences as a volunteer in the USO airport lounge in Los Angeles. One soldier — one soldier — she says, so touched her motherly heart that she knew she had to do something about his feeling that no one would care if he never made it back home. (Yes, I know, this breaks my heart as well.)
That one soldier’s need to know we all care has led to the sending of more than 300,000 care packages filled with Stateside goodies, cards and personal letters since 2003. Thousands of on-site volunteers, and hundreds of thousands of citizen supporters from every town in America have seized upon Carolyn’s outstretched opportunity to show we care.
Carolyn says that her inbox is filled every day with countless letters of friendship, thanks and American kinship from the many soldiers who have received the care packages, so lovingly sent by citizens through Operation Gratitude.
Among the many simple thanks she receives, one message emerges loud and clear. The soldiers love the goodies, enjoy the movies and games, appreciate the batteries and toiletries, but they positively cherish the hand-written letters.
Carolyn tells of one soldier, a young man with little support from family or friends at home, who after partaking of the sweets and watching the movie sent, carefully opens the hand-written letter of a little unknown girl from Michigan, reads her words of love and her heartfelt prayer for his safety, sheds a few silent tears, then folds the lined notebook page and carefully places it in his combat helmet, taking it with him into every battle, his most cherished possession.
Hollywood wake up! Here is your blockbuster war movie!