Courtesy of The Birmingham News:
The Birmingham Zoo is offering active and retired military and their dependents free admission July 2 through 4 with valid military identification.
There will also be an Independence Day birthday celebration for the zoo’s three African Red River Hogs July 4 at 1:30 p.m. The hogs, Star, Spangle and Banner were all born July 4, 2006. There will be an educational keeper talk and the hogs will receive patriotic enrichment gifts.
The exhibit is located in the Savannah with a lookout station for zoo visitors.
For more information, visit the zoo’s website.
Courtesy of North Jefferson News:
It is difficult for the families of military personnel to have their loved one deployed overseas for extended periods of time, and it is especially trying on the youngest members of the family who may not completely understand the situation.
Operation Military Kids, a national program administered through the 4-H club, aims to help kids deal with these specific challenges. Friday, the organization is hosting a Summer Fun Day at Oak Mountain State Park for the children of military families from Jefferson and Walker counties.
The program provides educational programs to help kids understand the challenges of having their parent, older sibling, aunt or uncle serving far away. By bringing the kids together for the day, they will be introduced to 4-H activities available in the area, and get a chance to connect with other military families. Kids will go on a wildlife and nature hike, hula hoop, play badminton, volleyball and build sandcastles.
The camp runs from 9:30 a.m. till 4:30 p.m.
Soldiers’ Angels calls on all Americans to actively observe Memorial Day this May 30 by participating in an official Moment of Remembrance or undertaking other acts in honor of the over 1.3 million service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Established by Congress, National Moment of Remembrance asks Americans to pause in an act of remembrance for one minute on Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time. The Moment can be as informal as ringing a bell, a moment of silence, a prayer or singing at a concert, etc.
Additional acts of Memorial Day remembrance can include the following:
- Visit a local VA hospital to learn the stories of patients’ fellow soldiers who never came home
- Use blogs, Facebook or other online resources tell the stories of family members who died in service to the country
- Read the names of fallen heroes on websites such as Honor the Fallen.
- Throw a care package party or write letters of encouragement for a hard-hit unit or the Mortuary Affairs units that care for America’s fallen heroes (for info, email email@example.com)
- Visit a local military cemetery or memorial to stand in quiet solidarity with those who have lost their brothers and sisters in arms on the battlefield
- With conscious awareness of those who have made our safety possible, enjoy a weekend vacation or celebration in “the land of the free because of the brave”
- Attend a local parade
- Fly the American flag (at half-staff until noon and then full height until dusk, if possible)
- Use Angels Mail to tell your story of a fallen hero (send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post it for you)
Please make a commitment to promote the National Moment of Remembrance and other Memorial Day activities to local leaders and businesses. This is a time to come together in honor of those who have given their lives so that we may continue to live free. In this shared remembrance and shared activities, we connect in gratitude as one America.
The fine folks at BlackFive shared this holiday message from our troops, courtesy of DoD’s Emerging Media:
I saw this today in The Birmingham News:
Sheila Benson didn’t waste time getting holiday packages ready for troops serving in Afghanistan, because she knows there isn’t time to waste.
Benson, chief executive officer of Employment Screening Services, which provides companies with information about prospective employees, last week had employees stuff Christmas stockings for 80 soldiers serving alongside her son, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Loring Shaffer Jones IV.
The stockings contain candy, soap, beef jerky, lip balm and letters of support from fourth-graders in teacher Dana Pate’s class at Oak Mountain Intermediate School.
Benson said she originally planned to send care packages to the few soldiers her son said likely would have no presents at Christmas.
“The more I talked to him and found out how many were unsure they’d get anything, we decided to adopt the whole battalion,” Benson said.
Benson said she hopes the public knows there is scant time to get mail packages for troops in time for the holidays.
Although Christmas is still 48 days away, the U.S. Postal Service recommends holiday care packages for soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan be mailed by Friday. They should be shipped no later than Dec. 4 in order to arrive by Christmas.
“Time is running out,” Benson said.
When shipping holiday packages to soldiers serving anywhere overseas, the rule of thumb is the earlier the better, postal officials said.
“You never know what may happen in terms of winter storms or transportation issues,” said spokesman Dave Lewin. “And, the earlier you mail, the service you receive will be more economical.”
In the article’s comments section, Kelly Graber added:
Here are some great websites to help get you started. Please help support our troops!
Thank you, Kelly, and all the ladies involved for all that you do!
This was posted in the weekly edition of PostSecret this weekend:
Posted in The Birmingham News:
Family and friends withstood the rain Wednesday to welcome home members of the 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command unit from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan.
A shout arose from the damp crowd as four tour buses carrying members of the 135th turned the corner and drove through the gates at the Fort John C. Persons Armory on West Oxmoor Road at about 11:45. Fifteen minutes later, more than 250 reunions occurred simultaneously.
The soldiers marched out of the armory in formation, smiling and waving to those lining either side much like a football team’s spirit line. This was a time for relaxing the rules.
While in Afghanistan, the citizen soldiers helped move supplies, food, mail and troops through the war-torn country.
Posted today in The Birmingham News:
Gov. Bob Riley in a ceremony at the Capitol today thanked relatives of Alabamians killed in the war on terror and recalled the sacrifices made by the 122 service members.
”When this country needed someone to step forward, they of their own volition took an oath to step forward and defend what is great about this country,” Riley said.
”To a large extent, what they did was sacrifice all of their hopes and all of their aspirations and all of their dreams so we can have ours,” he said. ”Let us vow this morning that, for as long as God gives life to this nation and to each one of us, their heroism, their courage and their noble sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
Soldiers and retired soldiers read the names and hometowns of the 122 Alabamians who died in Iraq, Afghanistan or other theaters of operation between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30. Seven were killed this year: Army Sgt. Lakeshia M. Bailey of Ft. Mitchell, Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas E. Rivers Jr. of Hoover, Army Capt. Kyle A. Comfort of Jacksonville, Army Spc. Brendan P. Neenan of Enterprise, Air Force Sgt. David C. Smith of Eight Mile, Army Spc. Andrew L. Hand of Enterprise and Air Force Senior Airman Mark A. Forester of Haleyville.
Photos of the service members cover a memorial, 8 feet high and 10 feet long, that stands on the first floor of the Capitol, not far from the late Gov. Lurleen Wallace’s statue. The American and Alabama flags flank the ”Alabama’s Fallen Heroes” memorial. When the memorial was dedicated in November 2007, 92 Alabamians had died in the war on terror.
A local soldier wounded in an attack in Iraq last month has received the Purple Heart.
Pfc. Michael Campbell, 27, of Ragland was awarded the Purple Heart Oct 5 from his hospital bed at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
“It makes you feel that you are appreciated for what did happen,” Campbell said Saturday from his hospital room in Texas. “I am very grateful to receive this. It is such an honor. Secretary of the Army Joseph Westphal presented it to me and some of my family was with me.”
Campbell recalled the incident, which happened Sept. 7 in Tuz, Iraq, between 3 and 5 p.m. Iraqi time.
“An Iraqi soldier climbed a wall used for security and started shooting where we were asleep,” Campbell said. “All total, 11 U.S. soldiers were shot, two of which died. The gunman was later killed by American soldiers.”
Of the nine soldiers who were wounded, Campbell is the seventh to receive the Purple Heart.
One of the nine soldiers injured is in Texas with Campbell.
“Kyle Perry is from Phoenix, Ariz., and he is one of my buddies,” Campbell said. “We stick together and try to keep each other straight. We go eat breakfast together every morning. I’m in room 127 and he is in room 126.”
Campbell’s wife, Tanya, has been by his side for the past several weeks.
“I am so proud of him,” Tanya Campbell said. “I know it is an honor to him and all the other soldiers who are Purple Heart recipients.”
Campbell’s mother, Sue Campbell, said her son has had so many challenges since he was injured in Iraq.
“But God’s blessings in his recovery has been abundant,” Sue Campbell said. “I am so proud of Michael for taking the oath as a soldier to lay down his life to protect our country, its values, and a way of life against all who seek to destroy us. Also for their mission to give the Iraqi people a real chance to realize a free democratic life for the very first time in many of their lives. So to Michael I say, ‘Thank you for serving our country and protecting our most precious gift — Freedom. You make me proud to be your mom and I love you so much.’”
The Campbells have a 4-year-old son, Jax, as well as a 15-year-old stepson, Dakota Gardner.
Tanya Campbell said her husband is scheduled to have another surgery Nov. 2 during which doctors will do a bone graft and insert a plate and pins in his left hip.
“The surgeon said in about four to six weeks we should be able to come home to Ragland for 30 days before returning back out here to Texas,” she said. “We should be home around the middle of December, so we’ll be home for Christmas.”
Campbell joined the Army Sept. 1, 2009. Basic training was held at Ft. Benning, Ga. He was then stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
He deployed from Hawaii July 2, and arrived in Iraq a few days later as a member of the 2nd Platoon, 1-27th Infantry where he is a radio telecommunications operator.
Courtesy of Charlie and The Daily Home.