By Carolyn Blashek
The Fourth of July – Independence Day – has become a day for summer gatherings and backyard BBQs. Yet, the essence of July 4th is an opportunity for reflection and expression. We who are blessed to live in the U.S. enjoy freedom – freedom to vote, to speak our minds, to pray as we choose, to educate ourselves and our children. This freedom was and is hard fought with extraordinary sacrifices by the courageous men and women of the United States Military. July 4th is a perfect day to express our appreciation to this nation’s Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guard and Marines in tangible and meaningful ways.
In March of 2003, I had a chance meeting with a Soldier who was about to return to the “War Zone.” With only thirty minutes until his plane departed, he told me he had been on emergency leave to bury his mother, his wife had left him, and his only child had died as an infant. He had no one in his life. Then he said: “I'm going back over there. I know I won’t make it back this time, but it really doesn’t matter because no one would even care.”
Operation Gratitude was born that night with a two-fold mission: to put a smile on a service member’s face, and to provide every American an avenue to express their appreciation to our Military. This mission would be accomplished by sending personally addressed care packages of snacks, hygiene products, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation, all wrapped with good wishes of love and support.
Seven years and 554,000+ care packages later, Operation Gratitude is going strong and welcomes your participation this Independence Day. Here are a few of the many ways you, your family and friends can say “Thank You” to a Service Member:
This year I will celebrate a very special Fourth of July with my son who was commissioned as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps last December after graduating from Princeton. He completes his basic Officer’s training and starts the Infantry Officer’s Course this week. My husband, daughter and I will meet him in Washington, DC to visit the War Memorials, and pay our respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
All of us owe each of them an eternal debt of gratitude.
Carolyn Blashek, the founder of Operation Gratitude, was born and raised in Manhattan. Following graduation from Columbia Law School in 1979, she moved to Los Angeles with her husband and fellow-classmate, Robert. Together they raised two children: Jenna and Jordan, two dogs and several cats.
Carolyn Blashek is a 2010 Minerva Award winner. She will be honored at The Women's Conference 2010.