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Rep. Sylvester Reyes (D.-Texas), left, and Rep. Jeff Miller (R.-Fla.) fill care packages for the troops in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building across from the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 11, 2012. (Photo credit: Mike Theiler / USO)
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USO, Congress Mark 9/11 Anniversary with Care Package Event

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

By Eric Brandner 

Two packs of drink mix and four Slim Jims, the volunteer told the Congressman.

“I have seen them literally rip [these care packages] open from the USO,” replied Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), one of the co-chairs of the USO Congressional Caucus.

And so it went for three hours on Tuesday as members of Congress, esteemed guests, USO staffers and volunteers and anyone else who wanted to stop by and fill care packages for troops streamed through the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building across the street from the United States Capitol.

The Operation USO Care Package event – held on the 11th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 – was a service project by the USO in collaboration with the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition to support America’s troops and their families. The project represented an opportunity for attendees to express their gratitude and admiration for those who serve in the armed forces, many of whom were inspired to defend America after the terror attacks.

“I just saw a statistic that – even today – more than 12 percent of the people joining the military state one of their reasons is because of Sept. 11, 2001,” USO Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Frank Thorp said. “So as we do this … please remember those folks who didn’t make it out of that day and those folks who’ve served and given the ultimate sacrifice since then.”

Seventy members of Congress – along with athletes representing the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and other guests – proceeded to pass through the lines. They smiled as they stuffed razors, magazines, batteries, calling cards and messages of gratitude among other items into clear plastic bags that will eventually be ripped open by troops serving in harm’s way.

The only thing that stopped the outpouring of support was a pause for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the 2001 attacks.

By the time the final four Slim Jims were dropped into a bag, the group had stuffed 2,000 packages.

“We stuff these care packages so that our men and women throughout the world will know that they’re not forgotten,” said Rep. Sylvestre Reyes (D-Texas), another USO Congressional Caucus co-chair. “I can tell you personally having had that experience … in Vietnam that the USO was always that one connection back home, so the work we do here to keep that chain going is very important.”

Federal employees can help the USO fulfill its mission to support troops and their families through the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign. Please designate #11381.  

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