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Adopt Soldiers for Thanksgiving Day Program

Information  November 22 2007
 — By CJ Grisham

Well, Thanksgiving Day is over and I’m still stuffed and sluggish. Today, Emily and I hosted two Soldiers from Redstone Arsenal who were unable to go home for Thanksgiving. They are here as AIT (advanced individual training) students learning to become EOD techs. We signed up a few weeks ago for two, which is just one of the reasons I got a 30lb turkey.

At 0830 this morning, I went to the pick-up point and waited for their bus to arrive. While we were receiving our briefing, the bus arrived carrying approximately 40 Soldiers. Many of these Soldiers have never been away from home during Thanksgiving. After unloading the bus, I was assigned my two Soldiers – Brian and James. Brian has only been in the Army since July and James came in back in February. These young men impressed us greatly.

Both are still teenagers, the older of the two, Brian, is 18 years old. He hails from northern California – near San Fransisco. He has two other brothers who are in the military stationed in Iraq and joined the Army to do his part as well. He is anxious to get to Iraq and do his part. California is a long way from here in Alabama.

The other Soldier is James. James joined the Army two months after he turned 17, in February of this year. As we talked today, he told he wouldn’t have joined the Army if he couldn’t go to Iraq. He asked me if he would be allowed to deploy as a 17 year old. I told him I hadn’t heard of any policy. I later learned I was wrong. US policy states that it is okay to recruit Americans with parental consent at age 17, but we don’t usually place in combat before they reach their 18th birthday (James, if you’re reading this, I was wrong). I just can’t find the rule that dictates it. James also has family in Iraq right now.

What impresses me about these two young men is that they KNOW what they are getting themselves into. Not only did volunteer for military service in a time of war; they signed up for explosive ordnance disposal service – one of the most dangerous jobs in the military. These kids (and I use that term respectfully) are the epitome of patriotism and love of country. Not only that, but their level of selflessness wanting to help others in a foreign country is beyond description.

It was a wonderful experience to host them. Their military bearing and discipline are exactly what anyone would expect from two young Soldiers. Even though we insisted on being called CJ and Emily, the constant chorus of “sir” and “ma’am” never ceased. We played Guitar Hero III, Apples to Apples, watched the Packers beat the Lions and started the Cowboys’ butt-stomping on the Jets (go Dallas!!). I had to have them back at the school by 1630. I hope they were able to relax for a few hours and leave the stresses of drill sergeants and intense training. It was truly a wonderful Thanksgiving and we were proud to show our thanks to these young men for their service by feeding them the remains of Larry (we still have about 10lbs left) and other homemade fixins. For the record, I helped Emily with lunch! I’m thankful for young Americans who still understand personal sacrifice and putting others’ needs above their own.

(5) Readers Comments

  1. CJ~

    That’s a nice thing you and your family did today. When I was growing up, my dad would sometimes bring home single soldiers for dinner (not always at the holidays), especially whenever we were overseas. I’ve thought it would be nice to do the same thing today, even though Daddy has been retired since August ’91. How would one go about volunteering to host a soldier or two at the holidays? Christmas is coming up soon, too…

    Oh, and we watched football today, too (except I keep forgetting that the UT/A&M game is on Friday, not Thursday…), and we also played Apples to Apples (me, my sisters, 2 cousins and a cousin’s wife).

  2. Sounds like you spent quality time with 2 wonderful young men!

  3. I hope their family members will read your post, C.J. You serve your country in so many ways, as does your wife.

  4. CJ,
    That is so great that you and Emily hosted these soldiers. I’m sure that it made their day go so much better. I’d say that Larry was much appreciated by the guys! Ha!

  5. I dont think that Larry could have given his life for a nobler cause! CJ you and Emily open your hearts to so many people and touch so many lives. I know that these two amazing young men felt surrounded by love today and that you gave them a wonderful Thanksgiving instead of a very lonely one. Having broken bread with the Grisham family, I know there was love and laughter and many blessings for them to share with all of you. Thank you for all you do for not only these two fine young Americans, but for all the people you and Emily touch with your love and kindness.

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