When many of us think of our soldiers coming home from war, we picture city streets filled to the brim and ticker tape parades. Young men and women, arriving home from months or years away from the people they love. These are the images we carry with us from the stories we've heard from the Greatest Generation about the two biggest wars in our nation's history.
Remembering these great images, you can only imagine the surprise that two men from St. Louis, Craig Schneider and Tom Applebaum, felt when they discovered that no such homecoming was in the works for the soldiers returning to the Midwest through the City of St. Louis. No ticker tape parade, no Kodak moments in store for hundreds of Midwestern soldiers coming home.
So these two men did what Midwesterners do: they took the reigns and began organizing a homecoming parade themselves. They turned to Facebook, creating a group titled Make January 28th Welcome Home the Heroes from Iraq Day to help them spread the word. They have garnered a TV news interview, an army of social media volunteers, (1600 members to the group in about 24 hours) and one seemingly impossible hill to climb.
Schneider and Applebaum have received a verbal commitment from one of the nation’s most respected veterans service groups, and they have agreed to formally endorse the project if the people and businesses supporting the day reach a financial ‘proof of concept’ marker of $25,000 before 12:01 am on Saturday, January 15th, 2012.
Between now and this date, the organizers are asking for your donation or pledge of financial commitment to this veteran’s organization on behalf of the January 28th event. Corporate sponsors will be featured prominently in promotional materials, reserve a vehicle entry slot in the parade for the vet they want to honor, and receive tickets to the planned VIP Tent in the Veteran’s Resource Village at the end of the parade route.
All moneys donated or pledged are tax deductible and go directly toward defraying the cost of the event, with any surpluses contributed to funding the projects and programs of the veteran’s organization.
You can find, join and share the Facebook Group here.
The organizers have also released a pledge form for any private donors or corporate sponsorship, which can be found here.
From the Group Page:
“They didn't ask for a parade, or a community show of support, or a gathering of people and organizations specifically focused on easing our warriors' transition back to civilian life.
We're throwing one anyway.”