The Words Behind the Record: What People Said About Signing the USO Every Moment Counts Flag

A word cloud based on the responses of nearly 500 people who signed the USO's Every Moment Counts flag.

A word cloud based on the responses of nearly 500 people who signed the USO’s Every Moment Counts flag.

Country. Served. Proud.

These are just some of the words that appeared most in an unscientific analysis of nearly 500 Every Moment Counts flag signers who shared their reasoning with us. The USO campaign earlier this year broke the Guinness World Record for most signatures on a flag with 115,405.

The flag will have a prominent place this weekend at Dover International Speedway during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400. It was officially unveiled at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati on Sept. 11, and again Sept. 13 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Here are a few of the hundreds of responses the we we received when we asked online signers to tell us why they put their names on the flag:

  • “[We signed] to be a part of history. To honor our military, both present and past.” -Mike and Sharai Coffey
  • “[I signed] for my dad, who can’t. He died in 2005, was the last WWII vet in our small town.” -Nikki Jennings
  • “As a veteran, I can’t begin to count the times the USO was there when I needed them. This was one small way to show current and future veterans that we once served and always serve! God bless the U.S. Armed Forces!” -Donald Cota

(Editors note: Submissions lightly edited for style)

Tastykake and the USO Make a Moment for an Army National Guard Family at a Phillies Game

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At the USO, we’re lucky to have corporate partners who are as dedicated to making moments happen for troops and families as we are. On Sept. 8, that turned into a special night at Citizens Bank Park for one Army National Guard family.

In conjunction with Tastykake’s centennial celebration, the company is partnering with the USO to deliver 100 Birthday Moments to troops and their families as part of the USO’s Every Moment Counts campaign. For the Sept. 8 moment, birthday boy Liam Evans (who turned 7 on Sept. 7) got to throw out the first pitch before the Phillies-Pirates game while his parents, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Reece Evans and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Emily Evans — both Army National Guard members — and his brother Reece looked on.

The USO extends our thanks Tastykake for making this moment for troops and our congratulations the whole Evans family on their big night at the park.

7 Air Force Facts for the Service’s 67th Birthday

Members from the 36th Airlift Squadron walk Aug. 11 during Red Flag-Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Air Force photo

Members from the 36th Airlift Squadron walk Aug. 11 during Red Flag-Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Air Force photo

As the Air Force celebrates its 67th birthday, here’s seven things you may not know about the most recently formed branch of the U.S. military.

1. The Air Force shares its birthday with the CIA. Both were founded on September 18, 1947.

So, can we come in? A "roof stomp" (which is nowdays often a "porch stomp") at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Air Force photo

So, can we come in? A “roof stomp” (which is nowdays often a “porch stomp”) at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Air Force photo

2. A “roof stomp” is an Air Force tradition where airmen welcome new commander or celebrate a special occasion by climbing up on the commander’s roof and make noise while others are bang on the windows and doors. The commander then opens the door to welcome in the group for refreshments. (In recent years, some airmen have modified the tradition to a “porch stomp.”)

3. Before the Air Force became its own branch of the military, it was a part of the Army. On Aug. 1, 1907, the U.S. Army Signal Corps formed the Aeronautical Division, which later evolved into the Air Force.

Air Force combat ace Robin Olds and his famous 'stache. Photo via commons

Air Force combat ace Robin Olds and his famous ‘stache. Photo via commons

4. Each March, some airmen participate in a Mustache March, a tradition where airmen grow mustaches to honor Air Force legend and triple ace Brig. Gen. Robin Olds.

5. Johnny Cash, Morgan Freeman and James Stewert are just a handful of the celebrities who have served as airmen. Stewart – who won an Oscar for “Philadelphia Story” before flying missions in World War II and Vietnam – rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve.

6. In 1947, then-Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in his Bell X-1 rocket-powered aircraft, beginning a new era of aeronautics in America.

7. Two U.S. presidents — Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush — served as airmen. Reagan’s service came when the branch was still the Army Air Forces. Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard before transferring to the Air Force Reserve.

USO of Metropolitan New York Opens JFK Airport Center Thanks to JetBlue

NEW YORK–Thanks to a generous donation from JetBlue, the USO of Metropolitan New York opened an airport center Wednesday in Terminal 5 of John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“JetBlue is excited to bring a USO Center back to JFK,” JetBlue Airways CEO Dave Barger said in a release. “We put the call out to our partners and they overwhelming answered. Gensler designed the space, Turner Construction Company built it, and a generous donation from the Port Authority [of New York and New Jersey] allowed us to provide a fully functioning lounge for the USO and our service people.”

The lounge features a plethora of donated items, including computers, TVs, gaming stations, iPads, snacks and even arrivals and departures boards so troops and families don’t have to worry about missing flights. The lounge is on the street level of Terminal 5’s arrivals area, directly across from baggage carousel No. 2.

Country Star Hunter Hayes Talks About His Military Moment and Two Upcoming USO Shows

HunterHayesPosterHunter Hayes was wrapping up a performance on NBC’s “Today” when a veteran reached out and put a pair of dog tags in his hand.

What the 23-year-old singer thought would be another of the positive fan interactions he’s become famous for on the country music scene was about to become a profound moment.

“He told me a brief story about how he had gotten [my] record while he was overseas and he had listened to it a lot,” Hayes said in a recent phone interview. “It essentially made me feel like I was doing something right with my music.”

Hayes will be looking to make more moments for troops this fall. He’s doing his first USO show Thursday night at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, and has also thrown his support behind the USO’s Every Moment Counts campaign.

“Every Moment Counts – I love those three words,” Hayes said. “I love that that’s what our current focus is. And the message is the fact that they give so much for us, that every moment with them, we never want to take it for granted.”

Hayes will be making moments on stage throughout his Tattoo (Your Name) Tour this fall, along with his exclusive USO show stops for American troops in Norfolk and Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, on Oct. 11. The 2012 CMA New Artist of the Year and four-time Grammy nominee will equip concert attendees with wristbands from Glow Motion Technologies to create visually dramatic scenes around key parts of the show.

“Most of our shows that we’ve designed have always had a moment dedicated to our men and women in uniform,” he said. “I just feel really strongly that our appreciation needs to be shown in an extreme way.”

13 Years Later: A Nation and its Troops Reflect on 9/11

Via Fotolia.com

Today is Patriot Day, otherwise known as 9/11, the day America was attacked, or — for those in uniform or about to sign up — the day everything seemingly changed.

America’s military has gone through a lot in the 13 years since an al-Qaida plot killed nearly 3,000 U.S. citizens in New York City, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Troops have gone on millions of individual deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Still, as President Barack Obama reminded the country last night, the threat of terrorism — whatever group it’s coming from — continues to weigh heavily in world events. It’s something our brave men and women in uniform continue to fight to eradicate to the greatest extent possible.

And as long as they’re in uniform, the USO will be by their side giving them comfort on the frontlines, assisting their families back home and making sure they have the tools to achieve a bright future, whether they’re overcoming an injury or transitioning.