Griffs Notes 9/29/06

As the national debate rages over which political party is best fit to protect America from terrorist threats, there are some heroes who are devoid of political persuasion and deserve a mention for their selfless dedication to the men and women of the US Military.

Since 1941, the mission of the USO has been “to help boost the morale of our men and women in uniform wherever they are around the world and convey the thanks of a grateful nation for their service and sacrifice.”

The USO is not a part of the federal government as some might think but rather a private non-profit organization that depends on the generosity of the American people to help them meet the needs of the troops. They have welcome centers in every corner of the globe where our men and women find themselves away from home. They deliver care packages overseas, provide warm meals and a place to rest and give out calling cards to stay in touch with their loved ones. And most notably, they send entertainers like Wayne Newton, the Dallas Cowboys’ Cheerleaders and Gary Sinise to dangerous places to entertain the troops.

I went on a USO tour in Iraq in 2004 and had the privilege of seeing just how important their contributions mean to the men and women in faraway places. I find that if you ask just about any veteran out there, they’ll tell you a story of how the USO helped them at one time or another. And last night I had the honor of attending the USO’s 65th Anniversary Gala.

Each military service honors one particular individual for their heroic efforts each year and last night’s Coast Guard (can’t forget them too) honoree was Aviation Survival Technician Third Class Mitchell A. Latta. During hurricane Katrina, a young Mr. Latta made over 181 aerial rescues from rooftops and submerged himself numerous times in the toxic-waste water to save lives.

But Latta’s story is only one of the 2 million plus members of the greatest all volunteer military in the world and the USO gets a pat on the back from me for supporting them in every way they can.

The motto of the USO is “until every one comes home.” We could all stand to learn from their remarkable example.

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