Thursday, March 19, 2009

Military Appreciation Night

Here is a copy of an email I sent out:

Hello everyone,

I am sending a link to youtube for you to watch. This was taken last night, 2-18-09, at Taylor's school.

A little over a year ago, Taylor came home and was upset about walking down the hall and seeing trophy cases full of trophies for sports and academics but nothing for our military. We told her to do something about it.

She went before the school board and didn't ask, but demanded that it be changed. They all sat before her smiling, how could they say no not only to Taylor speaking from the heart but also for such a noble cause.

She had a plaque made up, a flag flown over our state capital and a flag flown over Washington. There was also a flag that was flown over Iraq by a Mendon high school student who went on to be in the Marines.

She called upon the military recruiters and they all stood with her at half court for the presentation during a basketball game. It was a pretty neat night and I know most of you have already heard about that night.

Well, everything was finally put together and it took a long time to get things done. She wanted to have a 'final' dedication for the display and things started rolling. It ended up being more then just a dedication to the military veterans of her school. It ended up being a very emotional reunion of two cousins that are very closer then brothers.

There is a young man from Taylor's school that became a Marine after he graduated. Taylor never knew him, he is much older. On one of his tours in Iraq, he was severely wounded. Once we found this out, Taylor then wanted to meet him. Taylor and Sgt. Dean Cugliotta have since become very good friends. She has involved him in many things and even got him to join the Marine Corps League with her.

Dean suffered a TBI and lives daily with post traumatic stress. As you can imagine, some days are much better then others and as of late, the bad days seem to outnumber the good days for him. This has weighed heavily on Taylor.

Dean's cousin is active duty and stationed in CA. We kept waiting to have the dedication because we kept thinking that Thomas was going to be coming home. The Marines had other ideas and he couldn't come home, then he was, then he wasn't and it went on like this for quiet sometime. We finally decided to have the dedication now and once Thomas was able to come home, we would do something special for him. After all, he did have a flag flown that is part of the display.

This as well weighed heavily on Taylor. She knew how things were tough for Dean now and she knew that a visit from his cousin was just what he needed. Now, how to do it? Taylor decided that Thomas WAS coming home. But, she didn't want Dean to know we were going to work on it in case things didn't work out. With Gunny Batten on the job, you just know it was going to get done and sure enough, it did!

It was decided that this was going to be a surprise to her very good friend Dean. We got travel arrangements all set and then went about a well laid out plan on getting him home from California and then coming into our small town with no one knowing.

Once again, Taylor called upon the recruiters to stand with her for this and they gladly were there for her. Many veterans showed up. Thomas showed up in his blues and Dean did as well. He did much fretting over wearing them and looking good. He almost wasn't going to wear them, but he got an order from the Gunny and he had to wear them.

We had Dean stand with his back to a hallway and we got everyone gathered up for the presentation, colors was called and Dean stood at attention. That is when Thomas walked up behind him. What happened next is something I can't really describe, as no words do justice to the raw heartfelt emotions that took place. Dean was told to turn around and when he did, Thomas's face was right there. It took Dean a moment to register and once he did, he just lost it.

He wasn't the only one, everyone broke out in tears. It was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever witnessed. Once they were done hugging, it was Taylor's turn to talk. Normally, she is a ball of fire when it comes to talking, but even she was thrown by what had just happened and she was a bit lost on what to say. I think, considering the hard work she put into this dedication and reunion, she was really tired but did an outstanding job.

The news was there and had it on and I have to say, the footage they caught was outstanding and they really did capture the true emotions of it. But anyways, here is the video that was sent to me.
I have a few pictures to post on this entry and then I will post two pictures by themselves. You will see why they need to be by themselves.

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