First Annual Patriot Days

August 18, 2010

Operation Gratitude is excited to announce that American Veterans Traveling Tribute (“AVTT”) and the Lake Havasu Hospitality Association have partnered to host a signature event showcasing the patriotism that makes our country great. The “First Annual Patriot Days” will take place September 15-26, 2010 with ten days of events and activities for all ages.  Join Patriots from across the nation  to celebrate freedom, honor our Fallen, and raise postage money to help Operation Gratitude send over 100,000 care packages this year to U.S. troops deployed in harm’s way!

The centerpiece of the event will be AVTT’s “Cost of Freedom Tribute” which includes the traveling Vietnam Wall, a gold dog tag tribute to all the men and women who have given their lives in the Global War on Terror, and several other displays that honor, respect, and remember the men and women who fight for the freedom we celebrate.

To kick-off this historic event on Wednesday, September 15th, a Motorcycle escort will accompany the Traveling Tribute from Kingman, AZ to the event site in Lake Havasu City. Meet us at 12:00pm at Mother Road Harley in Kingman AZ (2501 E Beverly Ave. Kingman, AZ 86401) to participate in the escort.

Patriot Days will feature scheduled events every day, including Daily Honor ceremonies and tributes, Parades, 5k runs, the Mohave County Fair, Patriot Bowling, Patriotic Cinema Film Classics and  more.  A variety of musical and comedic entertainment will perform on the main stages throughout the event.  Included among many others are Gallagher, The McClymonts, The Chris Weaver Band, and the Ventura Girlz. Visit the Lake Havasu City Patriot Days website for full event details.

Don’t miss the “God, Country, and Freedom Rally” that will take place on Friday, September 24th. Speakers will include Veterans, Military, Police, Fire Fighters and other American Heroes. Also featured will be family members of those serving, sharing their stories, their pain and their joy.

The goal of Patriot Days is to raise sufficient funds to pay the postage on 20,000 Operation Gratitude Holiday Care Packages to deployed Military. Donations can be made online or at the Event. Personal letters and Wish List items for the packages can be deposited in Drop Boxes that will be placed throughout the event premises.

Rooms can be booked online. Be sure to mention promotional code “LHC10″ when booking to receive special Patriot Day rates and discounts.

The Lake Havasu City Patriot Days website is:

We look forward to seeing you there!

The Pledge of Allegiance

August 17, 2010

I pledge allegiance,
To the flag,
Of the United States of America,
And to the Republic,
For which it stands,
One nation,
Under God,
With liberty and justice for all.

The Pledge of Allegiance. What do you hear when you say or read it? A poem? Empty words? Or do you hear a deeper meaning? I hear a much deeper meaning.

When I say The Pledge of Allegiance, I’m saying more than just a poem, to me its pride, support and promises. It says that I’m proud to be an American. That I love my country. It is also a pledge to always be patriotic. A promise to always support our troops. It is just one way to show them we care about them. The American soldier not only says the pledge but lives by it and puts their life on the line for us. It shows that we respect our flag and the beautiful country we live in. To me, it is also a way to talk to Tyler and let him know I will always be proud of what he did and promise to be patriotic for him.

What do the words really mean? Let me have the famous Red Skeleton tell you:


“Boys and girls, I have been listening to you recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester and it appears that it has become monotonous to you or could it be you do not know the meaning of those words. If I may, I would like to recite the Pledge and give to you a definition of the words.

I – meaning me, an individual, a committee of one.

Pledge – dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self pity.

Allegiance – my love and my devotion.

To the Flag – our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there is respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job.

Of the United – that means that we have all come together.

States – individual communities that have united into 48 great states. 48 individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose, all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common cause, and that’s love of country.
Of America. 
And to the Republic – a republic, a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.
For which it stands!
 One nation – meaning, so blessed by God.

Indivisible – incapable of being divided.

With Liberty – which is freedom and the right of power to live one’s life without threats or fear or any sort of retaliation.

And justice – The principle and quality of dealing fairly with others.

For all. – which means, boys and girls, it’s as much your country as it is mine.”

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our nation, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance “under God.” Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said, “That’s a prayer” and that would be eliminated from schools, too?

Now that you know how I feel about The Pledge of Allegiance, that there is a deeper meaning, and you know what the words really mean let me ask you again; What does The Pledge of Allegiance mean to you?

Until my next blog,
Young Patriot

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command As of August 15, 2010: 5609

A house in Johnston, R.I., that women can call home

August 12, 2010

Read the entire story here:

The flowers on the table in the living room are from Ed and Regina Roberts. This house that Dianne DeLomba lives in in Johnston was dedicated two weeks ago in memory of the Robertses’ daughter, Marine Cpl. Holly Charette.

It is a fine house, a fitting memorial to the first Rhode Island woman killed in action in Iraq. It is a house where other women will come to reconnect. They will move in to brand new apartments and have a place to feel safe. They will have no worries in the morning about where they will sleep at night.

And when those women show up, Dianne DeLomba will be waiting for them. When it comes to paying a price for service to her country, it is safe to say that DeLomba has some serious time in grade.

Like so many veterans who served when she did, she can look back and put a name on her problems, a name that didn’t exist when she was in uniform.

“It was PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I know that now.”

But in 1974, when she left Pawtucket for boot camp, there was no PTSD. There had been no label put on that confusing, often crippling fallout from the physical and emotional pressure of military service.

She is 53 and in the best place she has been in in a long time. She sits in an easy chair in her first-floor apartment. Her cat is curled on the floor. Classical music spills from the radio. In the two weeks she has lived in the house, she has made the apartment very much her own. She has taken things out of storage and put them in place. A three-panel religious painting is on the mantel which is over the fireplace which she turns to glowing red with the flick of a switch.

Continue Reading:

Veteran's Galleria Update

August 4, 2010

What an exciting time I have had in the past couple of weeks here at Veterans Galleria. I’m not for sure where to even start!!

One of my favorites…… Pod Casting. We have done one interview with a young veteran from the Powersite Community, which is just outside of Branson, MO. You can listen to the interview by clicking here or by going to – click on podcast and then download to your phone, computer, or just open and listen. Please take time to find out about Luke Barnett. He has so much passion & love. He learned so much from the World War II veterans and he wants to share all he has learned. Your tears will mingle with his and you will come away truly blessed. This interview and those to come are from the heart. Not all of our interviewees will be names you know, but that doesn’t mean the message is not meaningful. Listen and share your thoughts. Remember you can go to Facebook and post comments as well. On Facebook, it is If you are not a fan, please join. It would be exciting to get our number to at least 500. Invite your friends and let’s see how long it takes.

How exciting to be posting another article from Julie on how to get your benefits. Many that have stopped into my office this past couple of days are really enjoying this addition to the site. This is so crucial for all of the veterans. Rather you have been in the system for years or you are just starting to understand the “system” here is another place to get help.

Our “Young Patriot” is having fun and enjoying sharing all that her school will be doing in the fall. Please ask all of your kids and those of your fellow veterans to send in stories to the Young Patriot. She would love to hear from you. This is so new and exciting, so please don’t let her down.

If you are the 500th person to sign in to Veteran’s Galleria on FB, we will have an autographed photo of Tony Orlando and a CD of the “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.” Tony was an inspiration to the entire U.S. at a time when we needed something to show our love for troops and keep the country united. To this day, Tony, honors veterans and does a free show in Branson during veterans week and continues to go and entertain the troops.

I will leave in about 10 days for the National Military Order of the Purple Heart Convention. I am really looking forward to being apart of this group of “special” veterans and will share more when I return.

God Bless and please pray for our troops and those who are stationed at home. Without the entire team, we are nothing. Remember how hot it is in our own communities, imagine how hot it is in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tyler's Homecoming

August 3, 2010

Last week I told you a little about my cousin, Sgt. Tyler A Juden, a bit about me, about The Tyler Project, and how I got to doing these blogs. I also shared with you the speech I read at my schools 2009 Annual Veteran’s Day assembly where I launched The Tyler Project. Today, I will share with you WHAT at Tyler’s funeral and homecoming inspired me to create The Tyler Project… The beautiful display of PATRIOTISM.

When I went home for Tyler’s homecoming and funeral, I was amazed. I saw patriotism like never before. And, I realized that patriotism IS beautiful, but it needed to be shown all the time and not just when a solider makes the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Homecoming – Due to bad weather, at the last moment the plane carrying Tyler’s body back home to our family had to change landing areas to a location about 40 minutes from our hometown. On the way to the airport, we saw people lining the streets, holding American flags and/or saluting. We saw many signs, both those hand made as well as the signs out in front of businesses’, thanking Tyler and supporting our family. As we made that drive, we decided to turn the radio on to the local radio station, KACY. They were covering Tyler’s homecoming live and they were playing requested songs from Tyler’s friends that reminded them of him. One song that was requested several times, Angel by Sarah McLachlan, is still very hard to listen to. We drove down a country road to the airport and when we turned the corner, I saw flags, hundreds of flags waving in the wind, all being held by Patriot Guard members standing at attention, lining the entrance of the runway. It was a sight that I find hard to put into words. I had never seen anything like that before. I wondered why we don’t see so many American flags more often as what I saw was beauty displayed in red, white and blue. After receiving Tyler’s body, we were led back to our hometown by the hundreds of motorcycles and flags of the Patriot Guard members. Along the highway and through the small towns we passed through, we saw people saluting, coming out of their homes and businesses, and pulling off the road to stand outside of their cars…some crying…all for someone they had never met, but giving honor to a fallen hero. As we came over the hill into our hometown, it was quiet. The only sounds we could hear were the sounds of the hundreds of flags gracefully swaying in the wind, and the crying of those who mourned the loss of a hometown son. More flags than I had ever seen lined the road. I saw people, Americans, saluting, crying. I was in awe.

Funeral – As emotionally hard as the funeral was, it was also amazing. Again, as we came around the corner to the auditorium where his funeral was being held, approximately 500 Patriot Guard members lined the way for our family’s entrance. As our family entered the auditorium, I kept my head down to hide the tears that wouldn’t go away. I heard the bagpipes being played. It was a sad sound. I sat down and finally looked up to see all 4,000 seats full. I saw the red, white and blue flowers that surrounded Tyler’s flagged draped coffin and pictures of Tyler as a child to the American Hero. The actual service is hard to remember but I do remember crying.

Burial – We left the auditorium to head to the cemetery. I was surprised at how many people still lined the roads with their flags. As we pulled in, all I could see were flags. Flags being held by the Patriot Guard members, a flag draped on Tyler’s coffin, and supporters holding flags. While I watched through my tears, I witnessed the soldiers folding the flag that once draped Tyler’s casket. I realized how sad it was that it took this type of experience for me to see just how gorgeous our flag is. Our flag that represents freedom, liberty, justice, and America. A flag that Americans, hundreds of years ago and still today, risk their lives for and all that it represents. Americans like Tyler. The preacher had spoken about how Tyler’s headstone says 1986-2009, but the numbers didn’t matter, it was how Tyler had spent his “dash”. I realized that I wanted to spend my “dash” making as big an impact and difference as Tyler did, and I wanted to start now. I wanted to make a difference. I was changed.

Until my next blog,
Young Patriot

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command As of July, 29 2010: 5589 **July 2010 is the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Afghanistan with a record high of 66 casualties**


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