Supporting The Troops With More Than Words
Yesterday's Pioneer Press, detailed what Minnesotans are doing to remember our troops:
There doesn't seem to be a shortage of Christmas spirit in Minnesota when it comes to remembering our troops. A number of individuals and groups have stepped up to help servicemen and their families in what can be a trying time, both emotionally and economically.
There are several national groups, including Fisher House (www.fisherhouse.org), Gifts From the Homefront (www.aafes.com/docs/homefront.htm) and Soldiers' Angels (www.soldiersangels.org), that connect volunteers with servicemen who don't get regular mail or care packages from family or friends. We particularly like Soldiers' Angels because often other soldiers forward names to the nonprofit group, whose motto is "May no soldier go unloved."
That struck a chord with Terry Keegan, owner of Keegan's Irish Pub in Minneapolis, himself a former Marine who spent a year in Vietnam. He and his wife, Virginia, have been corresponding with and sending care packages to Army Lt. Weston Cramer, an Iowa native stationed in Baghdad.
"I know how much mail call means," Keegan said.
The Keegans send Lt. Cramer food, sun block, foot powder and other essentials that soldiers say they need to survive the harsh Middle East climate. They sent him three boxes at Christmas, paying for the items out of their own pocket, as well as a Soldiers' Angels tip jar they keep behind the bar.
"You'd be surprised at how many people drop tens and twenties in there," Keegan said. "Their generosity is just incredible."
One night, the bar band donated its fee to Soldiers' Angels.
Bill Koster of Edina, a Keegan's regular, also adopted a solider, Pfc. Mike White of Ohio, who's stationed in Iraq with an armor unit. Koster said he has sent White four or five care packages and dozens of letters. He also sent--at White's request-- crayons, coloring books and school supplies, which White distributed to Iraqi schoolchildren.
Bar owners and bar flys, all doing their part.