|When asked, most every American professes to be “patriotic.”
Unless you have a close family member or a friend currently
serving through active military service, the daily cost of
freedom is probably not really personal. But what does being
patriotic really mean? The words themselves require no real
personal sacrifice. The question becomes “What can the
average American do to walk the walk rather than just talk
the talk?” Actually, there's plenty. Here's my short list.|
Pray every day for our troops and their safe return.
Pray for their families. Pray they will soon have an
opportunity to welcome their loved ones safely back home.
Pray for peace.
Adopt a soldier and send them written words of
encouragement. Let them know you appreciate their service to
our country. Tell them how much you value the personal
sacrifices they have made on your behalf. Make it personal.
Consider sending them stamps and stationary items they can
use to communicate back with their families and loved ones.
Can't bring yourself to send a card or a letter? You could
start by simply posting a message online for our troops to
read. An organization called Homefront Hugs created an
electronic guest book that allows you to post general
messages on-line. How easy is that? This is a great example
of what individuals can accomplish in support of our
military. When Alessandra Kellerman founded this
organization, she solicited others to join her in her
efforts to make it all work. The sum is always greater than
Send A Care Package
If you want to consider sending a care package, there are a
number of organizations that can guide you. You must
exercise caution when selecting items to include in your
care packages. Make sure to read up on and follow the
guidelines. (Many cargo planes that transport packages are
not pressurized and therefore aerosol or flammable items are
not permitted.) A comprehensive list of suggested items can
be found at the Soldiers' Angels Web site. This is also a
good resource for finding soldiers who want to be “adopted.”
At last count, they had 2,275 soldiers on their waiting
list. Another great resource on the Web is “Adopt a US
Soldier” founded by Ann Johnson. Her site offers many
excellent tips and suggestions. She recommends that when
completing the declaration form (available at your local
post office), you should choose the “redirect option” which
allows the post office to redirect your package to the
soldier's unit in the event they cannot deliver directly to
your adopted soldier. Otherwise, your package would be
returned to you. Ann's volunteers do an amazing job of
providing relevant information to make your adoption
You can find over 300 non-profit groups through the
Community Relation's section of the Department of Defense
Web site. This site is also dedicated to providing
assistance to military members and their families, but is
administered by the government. They do not accept direct
donations, but serve to ensure the organizations you choose
are legitimate and serve your intended objectives. If you
visit the site map section of the site, you can find many
ways to help support our troops. Aside from money, consider
donating frequent flier miles, phone cards and gift
certificates. Hint: Phone cards are a coveted item by our
wounded soldiers. Remember, every little bit helps and you
can make a difference.
Your American Red Cross also provides tremendous support for
military members and their families. They are not a
government agency even though many people perceive them as
such. Half of our nation's blood needs are handled through
the American Red Cross. They are also responsible for
meeting the blood needs of America's fighting forces through
its Armed Services Blood Program (ASPB). Consider a blood
donation – it costs you nothing, and your donation could
actually save someone's life. Consider organizing a blood
drive at your business. That's powerful.
Give a little of your time. Find a worthwhile cause you
support and then volunteer. The Web can be a good resource,
but you should think local. You won't have to look very far
to find a local group or organization that needs your help.
A good place to start is Serve.gov, which enables you to
just plug in your zip code to find service opportunities in
your own back yard. If you're not sure what or how you can
Pass It Along
Last but not least, consider sharing this information with a
friend along with an invitation to join you. There is
tremendous power in numbers, so encourage others to
participate with you. Not only will it make you both feel
good, but you might find you're actually having fun in the
process. Activism is a wonderful way to meet people and
build new relationships.
As a nation, we can accomplish great things by
collectively channeling our resources and abilities.
Personally, I think that's pretty patriotic.