Continuing with our 4th of July themed blog posts on AnchoredScraps.com today I am sharing another email subscriber item that was shared with me who is also a dear friend and one of My Three Muses. I sincerely appreciate when an email subscriber comes across something that you believe would be of interest for my blog – please keep sending in your emails!
Today we are recognizing the Maine Troop Greeters!
You will find this very active group in the Bangor International Airport, Maine. The timing for today’s blog post is serendipitous given yesterday’s blog post was about the North Platte Canteen during WWII. Here we have a modern day group doing something today.
Attribution: Photo upper left shown today from the Maine Troop Greeters brochure, http://bit.ly/1UiASk9.
Please note, I’m giving this a Hanky alert on both of these – the Trailer and the Film Maker Interview for PBS Documentary
There is also a PBS documentary about the group! It premiered on November 11, 2009. This is a link to the two minute Trailer, “The Way We Get By”. About the Trailer: “On call 24 hours a day for the past five years, a group of senior citizens has made history by greeting nearly 800,000 American troops at a tiny airport in Bangor, Maine. The Way We Get By is an intimate look at three of these greeters as they confront the universal losses that come with aging and rediscover their reason for living. Bill Knight, Jerry Mundy and Joan Gaudet find the strength to overcome their personal battles and transform their lives through service. This inspirational and surprising story shatters the stereotypes of today’s senior citizens as the greeters redefine the meaning of community.”
Don’t miss the 8 minute Film Maker Interview video with Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly. “Filmmakers Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly talk about their film, The Way We Get By, which takes an intimate look at three elderly troop greeters in Maine, one of whom is Gaudet’s mother Joan. The filmmakers talk about how they became close to the characters, what sending a loved one off to war means and what we can all learn from the troop greeters.”
The Maine Troop Greeters Mission
“The mission of the Maine Troop Greeters is to express the Nation’s gratitude and appreciation to the Troops, for those going overseas for a safe return and for those returning, for a joyful homecoming and to make their (hopefully brief) stay in Bangor as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Additionally we will honor the trust placed in us by these troops by preserving and perpetuating the donations entrusted to our care, through display, education and sharing of these collections.”
The group was started in 1991 “…after a large and spirited group of citizens drove to Bangor International Airport to welcome home plane loads of returning Troops from Operation Desert Storm. On that first of many days to follow, Kevin Tillman, an Army Sergeant with the 82nd Airborne Division, borrowed a John Bapst Memorial High School student’s saxophone during a refueling stop and delivered a spine-tingling rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” for the thousands gathered at the airport. By nightfall on March 8, 1991 Tillman’s performance had been broadcast around the globe, thrusting Bangor, Maine and the volunteers later known as the Maine Troop Greeters into the limelight. Another war and more than a million Troops later, the airport greetings continue. No matter the hour, members of all branches of the U.S. military and our allies are assured of a handshake, use of a free cell phone and a cookie as they pass through the city’s airport. Many are headed to and from Iraq and Afghanistan as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom, as well as other hot spots around the globe.” From their short history written by Richard Shaw.
The Bangor Troop greetings can be divided into four sections: 1) Operation Desert Storm: March 8, 1991 through August, 1991; 2) Post Operation Desert Storm: August 1991 through to the summer of 1992; 3) Interim Greetings: 1992-1996; and 4) Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom: December 12, 2002 through the present.
“Currently, the Maine Troop Greeters volunteers number over 500 strong with a corps group of 40 to 100 members who devote themselves to the troops by providing greetings and services. The organization was officially incorporated as a registered non-profit organization in 2008 and are a designated 501-C3 non-profit entity. “
The group is “a non-profit group of veterans and friends, men and women, supporting our armed forces serving overseas by greeting troops who arrive at Bangor International Airport.. Since we began greeting troop flights, first in 1991 and through the conflicts since then, the Maine Troop Greeters have greeted over 7305 flights with more than 1,480,033 service members and 396 military dogs. It is our pledge that as long as there are U.S. armed forces serving overseas we will be here to greet them.”
How to help
From their “How To Help” page they show besides becoming a Volunteer, or a Partner, that they are set up to receive donations. What I like about this group is whereas yesterday’s post was about recognizing a wonderful undertaking from many years ago, this opportunity with the Maine Troop Greeters is here today and they are happy to receive our support, and you and I can make a difference!