The Ladies Auxiliary from the VFW in Kalamazoo heard of Kevin's illness and knew he would be off of work for a long time. They have known of Taylor and all she does for the military and when they found out that we had to stop sending packages until Kevin can get back to work, they decided to have a fund raising benefit for our family.
It was very humbling to say the least, but we were very grateful. It was a nice evening with karaoke(not sure if I spelled that right) There were some patriotic songs sung, some in Taylor's honor. Then, Taylor jumped up on the stage and sang her little heart out to the song Proud to be an American. Everyone stood for her while she sang, and several of the veterans that were there, well, they walked to the other side of the VFW because they were left in tears from her heartfelt song. Later on, she got her brother Tanner up and they sang together Toby Keith's Red White and Blue.
Tanner even got up and danced with Ashley!!! The kid has never even danced with his momma! LOL
We are so thankful for those that came out to help us, many didn't even know us, they just heard of Taylor's story and came out to help. THANK YOU for being there for us!
Our town of Mendon held a dinner for the Veterans and Taylor was invited. It was a wonderful evening and an eye opener for us, we didn't know we had that many veterans around us! Taylor was in awe of the men she sat with. It also gave her more incentive for her project of getting the veterans stories told and chronicled.
We had the pleasure of listening to Cpl. Cugliotta talk of his time in Iraq. Taylor wished like heck that our media would listen to people like him, or Major B or any of the guys that are serving in Iraq now and can SEE the difference being made. Cpl. Cugliotta talked of how from his first tour to his second tour, a huge difference was made. When he first was over there, the streets were literally a bloody mess, no markets open....nothing. On his second tour, the same place, markets were opened, children were playing. He spoke of many things, many things you will NEVER see on our TV's because the mess of Britney Spears is so much more important.
It was a great evening and one that Taylor was very honored to have been invited to.
For Veterans Day, we went to the Kalamazoo ceremony. It was very cold and very windy, but there was a good turnout.
We made sure to walk around and shake the hands of the Veterans, and to thank them for their service. We came upon a very old man. His face was wrinkled and told of his age, but when we shook his hand, his grip was firm and his eyes were so young looking. When we thanked him for his service, his eyes watered and he said that he had a hard time remembering anything anymore, but he knows what he did was worth it. While he may not have remembered in his head what he did, by how his eyes shined and how proud he was to wear his veterans hat, we know his soul remembers. We were very blessed that day to meet WW11 Sam Poland.
Saturday, Nov 10th, what a special day. We were invited to a Blue Star Mothers Support the Troops Day. This chapter, has held several drives for supplies and today was the day they were going to be packing them up.
It was also the day that 3 Blue Star families were being presented to Gold Star families. Two of these families we know. Taylor was asked to be part of the presentation and she was more then honored. The first family we know, because of their son's deep love for his country and ultimately his supreme sacrifice, that we were brought to the Patriot Guard Riders. The family of Gabriel DeRoo, who we will always hold close in our hearts was the first family.
The other family was of Louis Costillo. At this young man's service, Taylor had the honor of presenting the Patriot Guard Riders plaque of appreciation to his family. Very very hard thing to do, but she was strong and brave as she did.
This was an emotional day, but an extremely gratifying day. There were hundreds of very big boxes packed full going out to our troops over seas and we were there helping, together as a family.
On Friday, Nov. 9th, Taylor's dad's work, American Axle, had their flag ceremony for Veterans Day. They do a first shift ceremony and a second shift ceremony. We were able to make sure that Taylor was there for the second ceremony.
She stood the line, small as she is, next to some of our country's greatest generation. They did the firing squad, and I am fairly certain that protocol was broken in letting Taylor stand with them as they did so.......but they let her have the honor of being with them.
Taylor's dad is recovering very well from his heart surgery. It has been a long hard ordeal for us as a family, but I am very proud as I type this, Taylor troopered on through all this and I got her report card, all A's and B's!