Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Bull Run Warrior Retreat Hosts Its First Thanksgiving for Willing Warriors + Their Families!

The quintessential American holiday!

The very name evokes instantaneous & universal images of 
food, football, friends & family. 
It is a day that we all do everything we can to be "Home" to savor those blessings.

 This Thanksgiving, the Bull Run Warrior Retreat hosted it's first Thanksgiving Dinner for a large number of our Willing Warriors + Their Families.

The retreat house became "Home" for the day for these amazing American families who have served our nation so well. 

Folks filled up every area of the 11,000 square foot house.

Children played games together -- inside and out!

Of course, the kids were not the only ones playing outside. 
The backyard was filled with flying footballs + Willing Warriors!

The kitchen was also a flurry of activity as the intoxicating smells associated with Thanksgiving Day wafted into the rest of the house.

Our Thanksgiving Event coordinator, Sheila Tomlinson, 
was very "hands on" throughout the day.
(Wow! She coordinates and cooks!  What a gal!)

Numerous SOWW volunteers spent the day cooking and prepping to bring the feast together in the Bull Run Warrior Retreat's state-of-the-art kitchen.

Finally Chef Larry proclaimed that "dinner was ready"!

Our collection of cooks prepared the buffet as SOWW President, Shirley Dominick, snapped a few photos of our guests of honor  before welcoming them to their
"Home Away From Home" for Thanksgiving.

But before the feasting began, 
there was some genuine 'thanksgiving'.

Veterans from different generations shared the things they were thankful for, reminding us all of the many blessings we have to be grateful for in this country and our way of life.

After the guests had finished sharing their heartfelt thanks, 
SOWW Vice President, John Dominick, said grace before the meal.

Then everyone made their way to the kitchen buffet to partake of the feast!

Joining us at the tables were Veterans from both WWII and Viet Nam.
How blessed we were to have the fellowship of 
inter-generational Willing Warriors + Families!

This is what a real Thanksgiving looks like!

Once the eating abated (for a time) there was, of course, 
more football.

On this special "Thanksgiving 2015", we are incredibly thankful for our SOWW partners and volunteers who have made The Bull Run Warrior Retreat a reality and a tangible means of
"Saying Thanks"
To Our Willing Warriors + Their Families!

For their ceaseless service to our country, 
we give thanks!

To all our wonderful SOWWers  out there . . .
May your Thanksgiving weekend be filled with 
Family & Friends . . . 
. . . Feasting & Fun . . .
. . . And the Warmth & Love of "Home".

Happy Thanksgiving From All of Us at Serve Our Willing Warriors!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

This Veteran's Day: Let's Appreciate Our Family Treasures

In my home I have a glass curio cabinet filled with little treasures.
They are not expensive pieces, but they are priceless to me.

One of my favorite items is an old tattered, knotted string that holds
my grandfather's dog tags from World War I. 

I pick these dog tags up from time to time and think about what they have been through.
I think about what my grandfather went through . . . 
How it affected him . . . 
. . . How it affected his family . . .
. . . And how that generation of Veterans affected the entire world!

My grandfather posing in his military uniform (above) and photographed with fellow soldiers (below).  
Circa 1917.

I, too, have my own pair of dog tags. 
Not because I have served in the military, but because my father was in the Air Force.  
I only ever knew my father as an Air Force man.
It wasn't until I was a teenager that I found out that my father had served in the Army during World War II.

Over the years I have sorted through old boxes of family photos and have found more and more pictures of my father during his Army days.

I am always struck by how young he was when he was shipped off to Europe.

My father asleep on his cot (above) and sitting on the left corner of the truck (below).
I look at these photos and examine those young faces
who answered the call of their nation.
They were the Willing Warriors of their time;
Willing to undergo and overcome the horrors of war so that 
we and our allies could keep our precious freedoms.

These are the faces of soldiers who never thought of themselves as heroes.
And yet, they are the true history-makers.

I hold my grandfather's dog tags in my hand and feel such gratitude for our Veterans.
From every generation.
And Now!

They are Our Fathers and Sons, 
Our Mothers and Daughters, 
Our Sisters and Brothers.
They are our Our Treasures!

Be sure to take time to appreciate them today.
For we need to appreciate them every day.