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A few friends have given me the privilege of working at a local tribute to our fallen soldiers on Saturday, September 9. I realize that a lot, or perhaps all of you don't know these people and will be unable to attend this event. But I hope you'll read this in the spirit in which it is intended, and understand what we are trying to do.
People who enter into military service come from all walks of life. Some of them come from off the streets, others are children who are barely out of high school, while many enlisted in search of finding some direction to their lives.
There is one thing that those forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan all have in common. They are aware that anyone who sets foot in Iraq has a chance to die. But they go in anyway, moving forward at all times, and they are prepared to lay down their lives for duty and their country.
Because of this, the military requires that these soldiers make out wills, and they also leave behind letters, videos and mementos for their families.
The remaining family tries to steel themselves for the day when a government car makes a stop at their house, but they are never fully prepared. War robs parents of their children, it takes away husbands and fathers, and more increasingly wives and mothers. Suddenly a home faces a loss of love which can never be replaced.
The members of the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund, Inc. believe they can relieve some of the hardships on these surviving families. Their organization was formed in 2003 to honor our service men and women who have dedicated their lives to fighting for the freedom which our country has long enjoyed.
The CFRSF provides college grants to the surviving US military children who have lost a parent in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars.
Everyone knows that the two income family has become a way of life in the US these days so families can maintain a reasonable standard of living. When one of those incomes is lost, it often places an unbearable burden on the surviving family members.
It's hard enough when a parent has to tell a child that Mommy or Daddy won't ever be coming home again. Then later the child's own dreams of scholastic excellence may be shattered due to the loss of income from the deceased parent. Then the child's future forever changes.
First year applicants of the CFSRF have received over $44,000 in assistance. This money has provided financial aid to five families with eight children, and college awards to six surviving spouses and two surviving children.
Everyone has their own opinion about the war these days, but there's one thing on which just about all of us agree. We appreciate our fighting forces tremendously, because these men and women are a special breed. They are heroes and true patriots. And some artists from the South Jersey area are putting their own operation into action in order to express their gratitude.
They're calling it Operation Appreciate Freedom. On Saturday September 9th from 6 to 9 PM there will be a benefit for the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund on the patio of Emjays Cafe in Mullica Hill.
There will be a special ceremony to honor those from New Jersey who have given their lives in Afghanistan or Iraq. The benefit will also feature a book signing by Vietnam veteran John Campbell, who also wrote the book "They Were Ours", a tribute to the 43 people from Gloucester County who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
Special events are being planned for the show, and there will be live music from South Jersey legends Dom, a singer/songwriter and hard folk artist along with the Essentials, who play only the finest in original rock music.
The CFSRF's goal is to make a difference in the lives of those families who have been denied a future with their loved ones. Their wish is to provide financial assistance and educational grants for the surviving family members, in order to honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice so we can continue to live our lives in freedom. More information about the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund can be found at www.cfsrf.org.
People from all walks of life seem to agree with their mission. Many of them from the South Jersey area will be coming to Emjays Cafe, which is located at 2 South Main Street in Mullica Hill. And maybe with enough help, many of these families will still have a chance to see a brighter future. Like the ones their sacrifices have allowed us to have.