Series Author Julie Miller provides an insider's look at the Saturday afternoon "SOS Military Mixer" in support of the troops of U.S.A.
This one's for my dad.
The SOS Military Mixer at RT was once again a lovely event this year. Maybe a little less flash and a little more reverent and homey—but for me that fit because I lost my dad, a veteran Marine and my first hero earlier this year. So yes, I cried when our super SOS volunteers (Cyndy and Kelley) played all the service hymns and From the Halls of Montezuma started, but make no mistake, my dad would have loved the event. He'd have been shaking hands with veterans and saying thank-you's to active duty personnel and their family members and honoring the bravest among us, just like we did.
This year, we had a big space with plenty of tables and chairs, plenty of cookies and lemonade, and plenty of laughter and friendly conversation. It was an honor to hear veterans share about their military service, to offer support (and get some good ideas for more ways to support our troops) to family members, and to show our appreciation for the honored guests in attendance.
The sponsors contacted publishers and numerous authors who graciously donated books, mugs, teddy bears and all sorts of goodies, which were presented to the military personnel and veterans in attendance. Air Force. Army. Navy. Coast Guard. Marines. National Guard. They were all invited to come up and receive their goody bag. I think the standing ovation they received when they were all gathered together was a bonus. Some grinned, a little embarrassed. Others stood at attention. And I think a few kept me company in the tears department.
Sherry James, me!, Robin L. Rotham and Rebecca York sponsored the event this year, and each had the opportunity to speak about our own military connections (uncles, fathers, brothers—Rebecca has a son in Afghanistan right now) and to express our thanks to our honorees, our guests, the SOS volunteers, and to Kathryn and Kenneth for all they do.
One of the highlights of the reception was when Kathryn and Kenneth called up longtime RT volunteer (and Army sergeant) Jesse to give him a plaque in honor of his outstanding volunteer service to the convention. As many of you know, Jesse's wife is an author—but you may not know that he's also going to be a dad—congrats, Jesse! I sent up a little prayer when Jesse spoke afterward—he has volunteered to go to Afghanistan to train the troops there.
Kathryn also talked a little bit about the booming success of her retreat for wounded soldiers—they've had many visitors, they've turned their collection of working animals into a petting zoo, and the roadside fruit stand there has become THE place to stop on Hwy 6 outside of Houston.
All in all, our military honorees and the guests who were there to honor them had a relaxing, patriotic, fun time. Dad would have loved it.