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Mainers Bring Stars and Stripes Ice Cream to Pentagon

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2002 – The verdict is in. Stars and Stripes ice cream is good stuff.

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Army Spcs. James Jones and Kenneth Pecquet receive their cups of Stars and Stripes ice cream at the Pentagon from a Gifford Ice Cream Co. worker. The Maine company distributed some 12 tons of the special red, white and blue ice cream April 29, 2002, to military personnel serving in and around the nation's capital. Photo by Staff. Sgt. Marcia Triggs, USA.

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Gifford's Ice Cream, a family-owned business from Skowhegan, Maine, brought 12 tons of special red, white and blue ice cream to American heroes from Maine to the nation's capital -- with a stop at Ground Zero in New York along the way.

Shaw's Supermarkets and the Maine Army National Guard assisted in the sweet mission.

The events of Sept. 11 compelled the Gifford family to develop a patriotic flavor of ice cream. "We wanted to have something that was red, white and blue, and we tried a lot of different things," company co-owner John Gifford said.

After a couple of false starts, they settled on vanilla ice cream with a strawberry swirl and red, white and blue candy stars. Gifford explained the stars are made of dyed white chocolate and filled with strawberry jelly.

"We wanted to say thank you as Americans and help keep patriotism alive," Gifford said.

"We have a free country, and I don't think we appreciate it enough. I think people take it for granted. I did, too," he said at the Pentagon. "We took everything for granted and then all of a sudden, something like this happens. Unfortunately, something like this has to happen to wake us up. Our parents went through World War II, and they understand a little more than we do. But our children certainly understand now. And after going to Ground Zero, (we) really understand."

Gifford, his partner and brother Roger, and several members of the family started their trek with an April 26 stop at the Augusta National Guard Armory in Maine.

Gifford said that while they were there, Maine Gov. Angus King declared the day Gifford Stars and Stripes Ice Cream Day in the state.

Over the weekend they brought their sticky bounty to workers at Ground Zero and Manhattan firehouses before visiting the White House and the Pentagon today. They also delivered 1,500 three-gallon tubs of the ice cream to Bolling Air Force Base, in Washington, D.C., for distribution to service members at 10 bases in the Washington area.

In the Pentagon courtyard today, people lined up by the hundreds for a free cup of the chilly dessert. Air Force Maj. Dan Vasquez said it was "very thoughtful" of the Giffords to bring ice cream to the Pentagon. "It helps improve morale here," he said.

Army Spcs. James Jones and Kenneth Pecquet agreed. Jones called it "a good show of patriotism."

"It's good, very good," Pecquet said of the ice cream between bites.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe special Stars and Stripes ice cream distributed at the Pentagon is vanilla with strawberry swirl and accented by red, white and blue stars made of dyed white chocolate and filled with strawberry jelly. Photo courtesy of Gifford's Ice Cream Co.  
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