Thu, 28 Nov 1996 01:34:35 -0600
That card made my eyes water heavily as I walked down the front of
the headquarters company building, the building in which I worked in. Even
more than the card I received two weeks before from my wife, with a woman
wrapped up in the covers, clutching her pillow and asking herself "Why must
you be so far away. It is hard for me to sleep without you..."
I quickly saluted a soldier coming deathly close to me as I turned
the corner and went up the two flights of stairs to one of my two offices.
My enlisted photojournalist/editor/Private-First-Class-in-charge asked me if
there was anything wrong. "No", I replied. It was the truth.
At the first of the month, a command represenative came around and
gave each office papers to allow you to contribute to the Combined Federal
Campaign. The CFC, like the United Way/Appeal/Community Chest counterparts
stateside, represents more than 500 charitiable groups and allow military
and civilian employees of the Department of Defense the chance to make a
difference. I normally give my money directly to the local Boy Scout
Council, and had already met with the District Executive and received a
Sustaining Membership Enrollment package from Jack. But I remembered that
Jessica always gave to the Girl Scouts so that someone out there that wanted
to wear that brown beanie as she wished she
could have when she was younger, could do so with worrying about how much it
was going to cost her.
So I gave one percent of my salary to the North Atlantic Girl
Scouts. Simple. Painless, and most of all, tax-deductable. Even here in
Europe, all kinds of agencies have suffered from the military's drawdown.
At it's high-water mark, there were more than two million family members
living in areas controlled by the European Command. There are about a half
million today. That drastic reduction has cut into programming budgets for
all of the organizations represented here -- even the military's dependent
youth programs, which are not supported by "automatic military dollars" now
like it used to be. Now, they have to compete alongside with the
Transatlantic Council and the North Atlantic Girl Scouts, and other local and
international programs. Programs have become creative in what they do to
recognize your contributions. The TAC recognizes contributions by having
the District's Executive for that area come to your boss and give him a
plaque to give to you as a thank-you. The child day care center offers a
special luncheon for you at one of the senior officers' clubs.
I never expected this. I had no idea whom "Jennifer S." was. I
thought at first, she was one of my clients' children or perhaps a staff
person at one of the places I had worked before my activation and movement
overseas. Or maybe it was my daughter writing through a friends' home.
There was no return address, but the "MPS" -- military postal
service, free mail -- gave me the clue that it came from some whom knew me
by name, rank and
unit address. They lived here in Europe somewhere.
I opened the red envelope and pulled out the card. The design was
A sun, with something that looked like either a tent or canoe with a girl
with yellow and brown hair and a broad smile. I opened the card and that's
when my eyes
"Dear Kind Person. Thank you for helping me and other girls with
your money. I will do a good job for Scouts. Jennifer S."
It was obious that she was coached as to what to write, but in a
personalization (I imagined that they had lots of cards to write), she wrote
"And I will learn how to camp in a tent" sideways up one side of the card.
I remembered how much my own wife wanted to be a Girl Scout and how
she related to me the evenings where she would be left behind while her
friends got to sell cookies and sing songs and do all kinds of things.
Thank you, Jennifer S., for making my day, for making my eyes water
and reminding me that being a member of a youth program is a privilege, not
a right. I hope you learn well how to camp in a tent.
Stay dry and warm.
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle)
(Brigade) Signal Officer, TF 21, 21st Theater Army Area Command
Kaiserslautern, Federal Republic of Germany
"everything I say is "on the record"; speaking ONLY for myself unless indicated"
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-----FORWARD in service to youth and the nation-----
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City