Jeff Via Sr. served his country during the Vietnam War, the conflict that spurred rancorous protesters who jeered troops when they came home to America. He wants to make sure his son, who fights for America in Afghanistan, never faces the same hate.
Via Sr. joined the efforts of Move America Forward, the nation’s largest nonprofit, grassroots protroops organization, which aims to send the largest shipment of care packages ever to American troops overseas. The effort will culminate in a historic “new media” production to raise support for the shipment.
Today the California-based group is hosting “From the Front Lines,” an eight-hour Internet telethon fashioned after Jerry Lewis’s famous telethons, but with a high-tech twist. The June 26 event (which runs from 1:00pm – 9:00pm) will feature U.S. troops on the front lines, families of those who gave their lives in the War on Terror, top radio talkers, high-ranking military officials, celebrities, journalists and musical talent.
The event will air on the Web through the cutting-edge technology donated and operated by UStream.tv and will be co-hosted by MAF Chairman Melanie Morgan and renowned blogger Michelle Malkin.
“I have been in war zones. I have spoken with our troops. And I know that this overwhelming show of support and love from Americans means the world to them as they fight for our country’s security and freedom,” Morgan said.
Via Sr. joined thousands of people who have already sent addresses and sponsored care packages for American troops. Folks have already sponsored more than $225,000 in care packages and sent names and addresses for the troops who’ll receive them.
“Thanks so much for the support,” Via Sr. wrote in a note to MAF. “(My son) graduated from college and decided that the military was what he wanted to do. He didn’t even go in to be an officer. He decided instead to be enlisted first so that, if and when he decides to go be an officer, he will know what it was like to be enlisted.”
“Once again, thanks for the support,” he added. “I know from experience how much it means to the troops.”
HUMAN EVENTS is sponsoring an hour of the telethon, and editor Jed Babbin will be on the phones with Morgan & Co.
The sometimes-competitive world of talk radio will become a unified front, as the kings and queens of talk radio unite for this effort. The roster of radio hosts signed up for shifts on the telethon include Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Mike Gallagher, Monica Crowley, Melanie Morgan, Roger Hedgecock, Michael Graham, Mark Williams, Brian Sussman, Martha Zoller, and Andrea Shea-King. They’ll be joined by NBC’s designated “America’s Favorite Mom” Patti Patton-Bader (mother of two sons in the military including one stationed in Iraq right now).
Former First Lady Nancy Reagan has endorsed the effort and will participate. Lt. Col. Oliver North, comedian Jackie Mason, Human Events Editor Jed Babbin, Miss Florida 2007 and Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik are among the many other stars, dignitaries and heroes joining the historic push.
Also participating will be an array of military bloggers and a special report from the office of Gen. David Petraeus, the architect of “the surge” which has helped stabilize Iraq. Marcus Luttrell, a Navy SEAL who survived a mission in Afghanistan that led to the largest loss of life in SEAL history, will appear on the webcast. Luttrell wrote about the mission in the national bestseller “Lone Survivor.”
“We are deeply honored that so many busy people are donating their time and efforts to send packages to our troops,” Morgan said. Thousands of Americans have already sponsored packages through MAF’s website and a giant database of names and addresses of U.S. troops in Iraq & Afghanistan is being built — so that the packages can reach our military men and women in time for the 4th of July holiday.”
MAF would like all families with loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan to send addresses and names to ensure all troops benefit from the overwhelming support of a grateful nation, Morgan said.
The Fairfield, Calif.-based Jelly Belly Co., which makes the gourmet Jelly Belly beans made famous by President Ronald Reagan, has donated 100,000 bags of their gourmet jelly beans that will be included in the care packages to assist in the effort.
“This effort has struck a nerve with people from across the nation and here in Sacramento,” Morgan said. “I am personally ecstatic about the love the American people have for our troops.” Families of troops have already sent thankful notes to MAF, explaining how the men and women on the frontlines of the war against radical Islam appreciate every note, every package from home.
Roger Quarton is a minister whose son is fighting for the United States.
“My son is serving with the Marines in Iraq, and I’d like to pass along his address to you, so he might be able to receive a package,” Quarton wrote.” “I know it would be a huge “pick-me-up’ for him and his buddies! Thanks for your help and encouragement to him, and myself!”
Morgan said she is humbled by the simple messages from families who give so much when their loved ones are serving in the military.
“We love all of them and we want them to know that the American people are behind them all the way,” Morgan said. For more information on the telethon, or to sponsor care packages for our troops go to www.MoveAmericaForward.org.