I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July with your family and friends. I spent the day with my wife, Laura, my parents, and my brothers and sisters in NJ. While we watched the fireworks on the beach where I grew up, I thought of all of you and how lucky I am to be part of the Operation Gratitude family. I can’t believe we have impacted more than 1.3 million of our nation’s heroes since my first Assembly Day in December of 2017. We couldn’t have done it without you.
As I reflected this weekend about what Independence Day means to me, I thought back to a day in my life I will never forget. February 24, 1991 – the day the ground assault of Operation Desert Storm started.
The night before we crossed the line of departure, one of the 63 Marines in my platoon was unfurling a flag to fly from the back of his Humvee. When I saw Old Glory I was overcome with emotion. I wrote the words below on the inside of a cardboard MRE box.
Today we fight for freedom and everything this flag represents. We are the 50 stars and the 13 stripes. There are 63 of us, and we are one. We come from 31 of the 50 states represented by these stars and from all 13 of the states represented by these red and white stripes. We come from different backgrounds, different religions, different politics, different races but we serve for one reason – we fight for one purpose. We are 63, We are Marines, We are brothers, We are one, indivisible. Today we fight together as part of the greatest fighting force the world has ever known. Today we fight for freedom.
I am sharing those words with you, our growing army of volunteers nationwide because you are the stars and stripes of Operation Gratitude. You are the very heart and soul of what we do and what we represent as an organization. I want each of you to know that.
Thank you for your continued support and for your service with Operation Gratitude. I am forever grateful to you for recognizing what our men and women in uniform do every day to protect our freedom and what our flag represents.
P.S. Please also take a minute to read this letter written to the Editor of the New York Times. It was written in support of police officers who protect our freedoms, too. It was printed on July 4th.