Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Students support troops ... with "World's Largest, Now Greatest, Scrapbook"

To be presented at Armed Forces Bowl Game on Dec. 23

There are so many military-related stories that would make America feel proud ... if only they were reported by the mainstream press.

One such story that should be reported by every major network is about a huge scrapbook titled "World's Largest, Now Greatest, Scrapbook," that students nationwide, including Virginia, are compiling to show their admiration and support for our troops. It is sponsored by "America Supports You," a website dedicated to the American military.

Each student makes a page to be added to the 24,000 pages that have already been crafted. The scrapbook will then be presented to the military during halftime at the Armed Forces Bowl football game in Fort Worth, Texas, this Saturday, December 23, 2006.

Virginia fifth grade students at White Oak Elementary School in Burke contributed to the scrapbook, working to come up with pictures and letters to express their appreciation of our troops. For some, it helped them better understand that we cannot take our freedoms for granted. For others, that lesson was already clear.

One 10-year-old wrote, “You must be very brave to be in Iraq. People in America are very proud of you and that (servicemembers) should never really forget that.”

The scrapbook had special meaning to some in this particular classroom. An 11-year-old's brother, fighting in Iraq, was killed last year. He father is currently in the military. His scrapbook page was poignant as he wrote:

“We are all so proud of you. Only the bravest of our country would fight for freedom and peace, and all of you are heroes. What you do is wonderful. My brother went to Iraq and was killed doing his job, and I know you are willing to make that sacrifice, and that is brave. Being brave leads you to victory, and I know you’ll become victorious.”

One of the fifth-grade teachers has a son in Iraq, another son at Fort Benning, Ga, and is married to a retired military member. The project helps her feel connected to her sons and others in the military.

Organizers of the scrapbook say this project is important because America needs to keep saying "thank you" ... and our troops need to keep hearing it.

Marine Major Matt Morgan, who visited the classroom in Burke, VA, assured students that these are the things that uplift the military. He said:

“I think any servicemember that’s been overseas can tell you that you don’t think too much about it. But then that one day when you’re at rock bottom. … You come back in the squad tent or walk in the chow hall and you see one of these things hanging on the wall, it can mean the world for you. It can just turn your whole day around.”

In Iowa, school students also contributed to the scrapbook as part of a Christmas project ... including a five-year-old kindergartner who has been blind since birth. Using his Brailer, his message was powerful in its simplicity:

"Thank you for protecting us. I like you guys."

Is something like this appreciated by the military? You bet it is! Army Master Sgt. Steven Haigh said:

"It's just very encouraging to know that people are behind you and behind what you're doing."

Be sure to watch the Armed Forces Bowl football game Saturday to see the "World's Largest, Now Greatest, Scrapbook" as it is presented to the American military.

Now ... if only we could get the press to cover these uplifting stories....

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