By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr., American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2013 – In conjunction with tomorrow’s observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, about 10,000 people from all across the country traveled here to participate yesterday in the national day of service.
Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, were among many people who came out to support troops overseas by packing care kits to send to them.
“We all get what is so important today,” the vice president said. “We still have 68,000 troops in harm’s way. … They’re not looking for anything, but knowing that those of us here at home remember them and know what is going is an important piece of the equation.”
Dr. Biden expressed her gratitude to the many volunteers who came out to pack care kits as a part of the national day of service, noting that she and First Lady Michelle Obama began the Joining Forces initiative to rally the nation behind military families.
“I’d like to thank each and every one of you for volunteering today to assemble these important care kits,” she said. “Our military families have done so much for our country, and each of us can do something in return. [This] is why the first lady and I created Joining Forces — to encourage all Americans to support and honor our military families.”
John Adams, a former Marine Corps captain and a Milwaukee native, works with an organization called Operation Gratitude, which helped to sponsor the event.
“It means the world to me,” he said. “I believe strongly in having everybody’s efforts focused on supporting the military. For everybody to come here together and assemble care kits for Operation Gratitude to send to troops overseas is very special and very meaningful.”
Adams also was able to speak from a service member’s perspective, having served as an infantry officer, leading rifle and mortar platoons for two deployments – one in Afghanistan and another aboard a Navy vessel in Southeast Asia.
“It meant the world to me [then as well],” he said. “We received much needed items such as the hygiene kits and some letters of support that helped raise morale. So it meant the world to everybody, and I’m speaking on behalf of all the sailors and Marines that I was with. We really felt a connection with people back home.”
Two volunteers, Paquilla Jones and Sajedea Chin, both sophomore students studying civil engineering at Howard University, said they enjoyed volunteering.
“It’s a good thing to do for the troops,” Jones said.
“I just like giving back, so this is an opportunity to give back and be with friends,” Chin said.
Chin added that she enjoyed meeting new people and had volunteered previously, but nothing like the national day of service, where the event’s goal was to pack 100,000 care kits.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for us to get together with different people – meet people we don’t know – and do something good,” she said.