Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)

It seems as soon as summer is over, all the stores are readying for Halloween, then Thanksgiving and before we even finish off the turkey and turn on the ballgame, the Christmas decorations are out.  With the holidays right around the corner, we often times get so busy with our own lives and family plans, we forget that many members of our armed forces will be oceans away from their families again this year representing us and the interests of our great nation. We have over 140,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, not counting the thousands in other countries all over the world.

Through the Red Cross and their Holiday Cards for Heroes campaign, southeast Texans can send holiday greetings to all branches of our military.  It is important that we let our brave men and women serving our country know that we are grateful for their sacrifices.

Last year I collected over 20,000 Christmas and holiday cards for the troops. One special teacher at Grady Middle School in Houston decided that she would have her class get in on the project.  But, what started out as a few students making some cards, grew into a school-wide card drive resulting in boxes and boxes full of cards. 

You see, this project was extra special to this particular 8th grade math teacher, Mrs. Ruth Bonetati, because both her husband and son were proudly serving our country.  It was amazing to see how much she put into this project, and the response she got from the entire school, because she knew first hand the sacrifices that are made by our service men and women – and their families left behind.

One of my favorite experiences with this project took place on an overseas flight a few years ago.  I had the opportunity to go to Landstuhl Military Base in Germany where wounded Americans come from Afghanistan and Iraq.  I packed two of my suitcases full of 6,000 handmade cards from third, fourth, and fifth graders of the Second Congressional District.

I checked one of the suitcases, but carried on the smaller one. About half way through the flight I opened the bag and started reading some of the cards. The person next to me wanted to know what I was doing and I shared a few with him. Next thing I knew, the whole plane was reading them. The cards were going up and down the aisle, and there were a few tears in the background. Amazing things were said in those cards by these Texas school children.

When I got to the base and delivered these cards, it was heartwarming to see what they meant to them.  They didn’t know these kids from Texas, but every one of them read them and smiled proudly at the uplifting words of support.  They wanted the nurses to tape the cards to the hospital walls and above their beds. There is something about a homemade card, especially from a child. 

It is important that we always recognize and remember our troops.  The holidays are hard for many that are separated from their families and I encourage everyone – individuals, groups, and organizations to send a card and a few words of thanks.  It is because they are away from their families that we get to be with ours.   

And that’s just the way it is.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Congressman Poe will have a drop off location outside his Kingwood Office (1801 Kingwood Drive, Ste 240), for those wanting to drop off cards for the Red Cross Holiday Cards for Heroes campaign.  No taxpayer money or resources will be used to distribute these cards. Congressman Poe and members of his staff will volunteer their time to assist in this project.