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People Just Want to Say, 'Thanks'

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2002 – George Grant, of Thornwood, N.Y., came close to being a widower on Sept. 11, 2001, when his wife Shelley left their home that day as usual, headed for her job as an attorney in Tower One of the World Trade Center.

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George Grant, of Thornwood, N.Y., adds his name to "America's Thank You Note" to the men and women in the armed forces during Public Service Recognition Week activities May 9, 2002, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn

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"She always started work about 9:30," Grant recalled. "She'd gotten off the subway, turned the corner and saw the flames. She wound up walking back to Grand Central. She got home about 1:30 p.m. I never was so happy to see her in my entire life."

This week, Grant sent his thanks to the men and women of the nation's armed forces who are fighting the war against terrorism. He's one of thousands who've signed a virtual 'thank you' note for America's troops.

The troops are "doing their job and they need recognition," Grant said. "A lot of times they do all the grunt work, and they don't think the people at home know that they're out there. But, we know. We know."

America's Thank You Note" exists in cyberspace. Anyone with a computer can "sign" the note by going to http://www.defendamerica.gov/ and following the instructions there. Visitors can type in a name, hometown and state and then click on a button to submit the greeting. The note will be on the Web through May 31 when the names will be gathered and presented to the military.

Defense officials put the virtual note on the Web site in connection with National Military Appreciation week. They also set up a kiosk on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as part of Public Service Recognition Week so people attending the May 9-12 activities could add their names to the note. To date, more than 15,600 have added their names to the list.

Grant stopped at the DefendAmerica display on the mall to add his name to the list. "I gotta say 'Hi' to all the guys," he said, "I hope they're doing well."

Julie and Patrick Dowd of Glenn Falls, N.Y., also stopped and entered their names into the laptop computer. "As a journalist," Patrick said, "I've been following what's been going on in Afghanistan very closely. While never being in the military, I can imagine what kind of life that must be. To be given an opportunity to say thank you, I think is great."

Kate McCoy, whose husband John is an Army major at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, was another who typed in her name. " I was active duty," she said, "and I just think it's a wonderful thing to thank the people who are taking care of us."

A former active duty officer said he thought the virtual note was a great idea. "I want to say thank you to those soldiers over there that are doing what I used to do," said Bob Kern, of Severn, Md. "Now, they're young enough to do it and I appreciate it, and I want to let them know. I hope they get millions of responses from everybody in the United States saying, 'Thank you.'"

Donna O'Berry, of Owings, Md., said she appreciates what America's troops are doing. Mark Gervais, of Houston, Texas, a Coast Guard veteran now in the U.S. Merchant Marine, said he liked the idea of sending the Thank You Note.

Bonnie Williams, of Fairfax, Va., summed up most people's feelings about the troops when she said. "I appreciate everything they've done."

Adding your name to the note is a small gesture, she said, compared to what the men and women in uniform have done to combat terrorism. "It takes me a minute, and they've given up so much of their time and their life," she said.


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Click photo for screen-resolution imageEdith Yu of Dublin, Ohio, adds her name to a virtual "America's Thank You Note" at the DefendAmerica information booth May 9, 2002, in the Public Service Recognition Week exhibit on Washington's National Mall. James Flouhouse of the Department of Defense public affairs office gives her a hand. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageJulie Dowd (left with baby), of Glenns Falls, N.Y., and Kate McCoy (seated right), of Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., add their names to "America's Thank You Note" to the men and women in the armed forces during Public Service Recognition Week activities May 9, 2002, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn  
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