As we open our hearts to our heroes…

I have lived my entire life proud to wave my nation’s flag. While none of my immediate family is serving in the army, my family does have direct ties to the U.S. military. Both of my grandfathers, my uncle and father served our country. My Papa Richard, for example, served our nation during WWII in the 8th air force, where he worked as a mechanic. For almost two decades I thought that he never fought in any campaigns; I was under the impression that he was never faced with the true horrors of war. However I recently found out that I was wrong. To me, my grandfathers, uncle and father are heroes. In a time of chaos and destruction they were willing to fight for something they believed in and that is truly overwhelming to me. I feel extremely blessed to be a part of them.My family represents a small fraction of thousands of men and women who have served the United States of America. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend an event at Soldiers Field where Mayor Daley and Senator Dick Durbin honored all the veterans who served the U.S.As the speakers talked on, I felt tears swell in my eyes. I was overwhelmed with happiness, pride and sadness. I couldn’t believe how humble and extraordinary these people are. They have more courage than I could ever acquire. And they have been through more than I will probably ever go through in my entire life. They represent so much and have given us more than many thought possible. One veteran said, “We never thought of ourselves as heroes.” That, to me, is remarkable. I wondered how he could not think of himself as a hero.


That is exactly what all of the veterans and current soldiers are. To me they are more than heroes.

As the keynote speaker took the stage he said, “Freedom is not free.” Freedom is so delicate. It is something many take advantage of. Sometimes we don’t realize what we have. Above all else, it is freedom that the many men and women who serve our country fight to protect. Freedom isn’t free. Lives are risked every single day to ensure that it is protected.

Both Mayor Daley and Senator Dick Durbin mentioned that just within this week two young soldiers, one of whom is my age-20, lost their lives. I thought to myself, why? After an entire day of thinking I still don’t have an answer. Those two men were really boys. They were only 20 years old and showed had courage to witness war the tragedies of war. That speaks unbelievable volumes. The world has a funny way of showing you what you are thankful for. And I am thankful for them. Their strength encompasses me with pride and gratitude. Thank you to all of our veterans and those who serve our country today and every day. You are our true heroes.

Help the Chicago Red Cross say thank you to all those who serve us through our Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Between September 7 and December 10, the public is invited to send a “touch of home” through holiday cards that contain messages of cheer and appreciation. “Sending a greeting card is a small effort that makes a big impact for our American heroes during the holiday season,” said Erin Counihan, Disaster Services Respondent at the Chicago Red Cross. “The American Red Cross serves and supports members of the military, veterans, and their families by providing emergency communications, comfort and assistance each day. The Holiday Mail for Heroes program continues the Red Cross tradition of service to the armed forces.”

Holiday cards should be addressed and sent to:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Please be sure to affix adequate postage. Cards must be received no later than December 10.

Cards received after this date will be returned to senders. For reasons of processing and safety, participants are asked to refrain from sending “care packages,” monetary gifts, using glitter or including any inserts with the cards.

Visit for a full list of recommended guidelines and best practices on the Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

Additional ways to become involved with the campaign include connecting with fellow card senders through Facebook at and Twitter at using the hashtag #holidaymail.

Visit to learn more about the Chicago Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces.

One response

  1. This event was awesome and the Veterans and family members were so appreciative of our program. they could not believe the cards for the Holiday Mail for Heroes were free and were very excited about writing messages. I encourage everone to share this program at holiday parties!

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