First, as Han said, Happy Holidays to all!
Next, let's not forget all those men and women that are coming back
from the war, and all those that are already here unable to get home
or to be with loved ones.
Once again this year our little cigar club has the privilege of
serving Christmas Eve dinner to the men and women of the military and
their families at the Wounded Warriors Center and Fischer House. We
were an unexpected hit at the hospital last year and we have been told
that the troops and their families are really looking forward to our
dinner tonight. Our final count for folks we served dinner to last
year ran just a few shy of 300! We are expecting about the same this
This year will have another aspect to it. Many of the men and women
we will be seeing this year will be fresh from their respective
theaters of operation, without any benefit of decompression time.
Some will be flown here almost directly, and sent to the hospital and
other rehab facilities. For those of you that don’t know, this
immediate wind down has been a controlled panic for the military, on
all levels. It seems that while some effort has been placed on
getting the troops to their personal homes, more emphasis has been put
on just getting them out of Iraq. In the rush to get these men and
women out of Iraq, they have been shipped at expedience’s demand, with
many far, far from their homes.
With that in mind, I hope that anyone that has a chance to give a few
minutes of their time making things better for these men and women
will take the opportunity to do so. It is humbling, rewarding, and a
great experience to be around some of these troops. Last year, the
men and women we served thanked us so much it was silly. And many had
a great sense of humor about it, too. The laughed and told us that
they didn’t eat nearly as well at home as they did at our dinner, but
made sure their wives couldn’t hear. They were happy to have an
almost home cooked meal that reminded them of home, and it was even
better that the food wasn’t on the chow line. In fact, this food is
all “A” grade restaurant quality food we received from SYSCO Foods,
Hormel, Armour/Ekrich, Continental Bakers, Ocean Spray, and on an on.
No institutional stuff here. We are starting our cooking of the
turkeys early this morning so we can have them ready to serve by
5:00. All other foods will be put together out on site. (Busy day,
Last year they had turkey and gravy, two kinds of ham, two kinds of
mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce,
cornbread dressing, 6 -7 different kinds of dinner rolls, fresh salad,
12 different dessert choices, and all the tea, soft drinks and coffee
they wanted. I even had a couple of the cute girl volunteers go
around and serve them drinks so they wouldn’t have to move. And talk
about a feeling of humility; after eating his dinner, one of the
troops came over with his friend and told me he had never had a dinner
like that - ever. His friend agreed.
Imagine that; the best holiday dinner you ever had coming from a cigar
club. This year they will have the same meal again due its
popularity. Some of the soldiers requiring extensive rehab will be
there again, the boys that were missing limbs, guys requiring multiple
reconstructive surgeries, and folks in long term rehab. I hope to see
a couple of them in particular to see how they are doing. And their
courage, optimism and sense of calm “after the fact” is almost awe
inspiring. They were teasing each other last year about getting their
prosthetic legs fit with an extra sized shoe so they could kick more
ass; one guy was laughing (laughing, mind you) about having claws like
Wolverine’s installed so he could snap them out (and of course do more
ass kicking) when he needed them.
To me, helping these guys out now is about the best thing someone can
do. While we are a cigar club and have no women members, we bring
wives, girlfriends, and children 14 and over. All of them seem to
like it a lot as well, and the proof is in the putting. We even have
more teenaged volunteers as well as folks from both sexes than we need
this year, even though our dinner is on Christmas Eve! And they don’t
I hope to inspire some of you to look around tomorrow or on Christmas
day and lend a hand towards any group that needs the help. And if you
live in a city with a military base or installation, even though the
men and women may not be wounded, many enjoy the company of others at
this time of year and would probably appreciate if you dropped by a
snack bar or room (or your own Wounded Warriors Center!) and dropped
off some food and spent some time with them. Some of these troopers
really miss home a lot. And to miss Christmas on top of not being
home, that it is downright painful. I saw more than a few teary eyes
last year when talking about home and Christmas traditions.
So, family first. But if you take care of that and have a little time
left over, you could probably find something to do to help out our
returning troops and help them enjoy Christmas back in the USA. It's
not THEIR home, but a home means a lot. I have a friend of mine that
has contacted one of the bases and they are going to have 4 young
female army troops over to actually help make their evening dinner!
Their selling point to these girls was "NO BOYS ALLOWED!"
So happy Christmas to all of you and your families. And if you get a
chance to shake a trooper’s hand and than him for his/her service,
pick up his lunch, buy a coffee, or go help serve them a meal, you
should do it. Some of these guys (especially the younger ones) really
get a kick out of that kind of small stuff. They don't need anything
big; more than once I have been told that they just like being
Back here after the first of the year. Be safe on New Year's.
Wish me luck!