'Howard Huge' Calendars to Be Sent to Deployed Troops
By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2003 Local Junior ROTC cadets packed thousands of 2004 poster-size calendars into mailing cylinders at the United Unions Building here Dec. 4.
Junior ROTC cadets Marine Gunnery Sgt. Eduardo Negron, Marine Sgt. Latasha McMillan, Army Staff Sgt. James Byrne, Army Staff Sgt. Aaron Hope and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Pham pack 2004 calendars. The calendars, which feature Parade magazine's cartoon dog Howard Huge, will be mailed to deployed troops overseas. Task Force Calendar 04 is sponsored by the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. Photo by K.L. Vantran.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine cadet Capt. Karen Bellini, of Mount Vernon, Va., said participating in the project was a way to show appreciation to those serving overseas and fighting the global war on terror.
"They do so much by going over there and defending our country," said the senior who hopes to get an Army ROTC scholarship and follow in the footsteps of her father, grandfather and great grandfather -- all who served in the Army. "They have no comforts of home. This is our chance to show thanks and give back a little for the service they give to our country."
The calendars, featuring Parade magazine's lovable cartoon dog Howard Huge, will be sent to more than 600,000 deployed troops around the world as well as to children who lost a loved one in service to the United States or by an act of terrorism. In addition to the calendar, children will also receive a pillowcase that shows the calendar and artwork.
This program, Task Force Calendar 04, inaugurates Operation US to You and is one of many projects planned to boost morale of deployed troops, said Carmella LaSpada, executive director, the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance, which sponsored the event. The commission, established by Congress, honors those who died for the United States and recognizes veterans and those who continue to serve. Its purpose is to promote the values of Memorial Day by acts of remembrance throughout the year.
The calendars, she added, are a "tangible reminder that a nation does remember" those who wear the uniform and serve so far from home.
LaSpada said every part of the calendar project artwork, printing, distribution was donated. She said many projects could not have been done without the support of the AFL-CIO unions. "They have been out there since Day One supporting us and we're so proud to have them painters, allied trades, ironworkers, steelworkers and firefighters. They are our angels."
The executive director said she hopes the calendar "will remind the troops of the faith, optimism and sense of humor that are alive and well among those that they so honorably serve. We are grateful to them for safeguarding our country."
Cartoonist Bunny Hoest, who created Howard Huge, said she was very honored when the commission requested her character to be the feature on the calendar. "I was especially touched by the fact that it goes to children of those who have given their lives whether from acts of terrorism against Americans and freedom or in service to the country," she added.
The mother of Howard Huge said the words on the calendar, "American Unity and Pride on Parade Let's Make it Huge," are very appropriate. "Let's keep all the unity and pride we have in America together," she added.
Vietnam veteran Jim Williams, general president International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, said what LaSpada and the commission do for the veterans, for the service members and for the families "is just beautiful."
"Our union was touched because we lost one of our members early on in Iraq," he added. "Whatever we can do as a union to support our country, our members and the services, we'll do it. We'll do it because we love our country, we love our members and we love our servicemen and women."
"It's very important to remember that those who died supporting this country's freedoms did not die in vain," said Army Ranger Col. Steve Hoogland, director of Special Operations Command's Washington office. "It's always an honor to participate in events such as this."
The veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm from 1990 and 1991 said service members often worry if people back home are supporting them. "It's very important that they know they're supported as they're deployed overseas," he added. "I can't say enough how much it will mean to the people who receive these calendars."
Navy SEAL Cmdr. Jim Liddy, who has served in 37 countries during his more than 19 years of service, agreed. "It's the little things that you do that mean the most to us," he said. "Whether we're on a ship, in a foxhole, in a tent, or some other makeshift place that we have to call home, it's the little things that we can bring along or that get sent to us that foster that seed of pride and gives us more strength to continue our mission and get back home to our families."
The calendars sport the signatures of Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired Army Gen. Tommy Franks, former head of U.S. Central Command. Other signers include a host of athletes and entertainers.