By Jo Rosen
2007 was the year Alan died, and when Christmas came I wondered what I would do with the void I was faced with. On my drive to one of PRO’s support groups, I heard a radio advertisement from the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce about “Adopting a Marine” for Christmas. The next day I called to inquire how one goes about this, and after the explanation I asked the “Adopt a Marine” reservationist if I could adopt five Marines rather than just one. My reason: With one we risked running out of things to talk about and it wouldn’t be much fun for the Marine, much less me.
The reservationist informed me that they haven’t done five before and when she got back to me to confirm this was possible she explained that I was responsible for picking them up at the base (about 2 hours away) and returning them back to the base the same day. I thought about it for a short time and asked if I could send a limousine for them, and if I did would I personally have to accompany the limousine? She confirmed that I could send a limousine and that I did not have to accompany it as Long as she had a security clearance for the limousine.
Needless to say, from whatever day that I made that call until Christmas day, I created a mini event for these youngsters. They were awestruck. They had NEVER been close to a limousine, much less ride in one. Apparently the base is very stark (out in the windy, sandy desert among 1,000 palm trees) and they were transported to what otherwise might have appeared to be paradise for them. Before their full holiday meal, appetizers, turkey, ham, dressing, potatoes, gray, pumpkin pie, and the works, we toasted with a glass of champagne. Most of these youngsters, if they drank, had never drunk anything more than beer. I set up the computer so they could all get in touch with their families, I had the televisions on to the day’s sporting events, and it was an EXTRAORDINARY day.
The gratitude spoken to me by the parents of these youngsters was more rewarding than you can imagine. The parents were so thrilled that their child had a HOME and home environment within which to spend their Christmas day.
Our local television station covered the event which gave me the opportunity to give each Marine a DVD for the “memory box.”
Television covered it again this year so if you go to http://www.kmir6.com/ and search for Home Away from Home for Twentynine Palms Servicemen you can experience our day by watching the video.
And so it goes.
The written text of the broadcast:
Many of our armed forces have to be away from their families during this holiday. But a Palm Desert community welcomed three servicemen to Christmas dinner.
HM3 Gabriel Jimenez serves his country in the US Navy. He is from Bethel, Connecticut, and has a friend who worked at Sandy Hook Elementary.He says it is especially heartwarming this Christmas to be welcomed into a home away from home.
“I’m away from my family. Recently the Newtown incident happened really close to home, and it’s hard to be away from family when something like that happens, and for someone just to be so generous and take us in, it’s an amazing feeling,” said Jimenez.
Five years ago, Palm Desert resident, Jo Rosen, heard an Adopt-a-Marine commercial on the radio. Since then, she has hosted military service members at her home.
“It’s probably the most rewarding thing that I could do for me, I so appreciate what they have done, they lay their life on the line for all of us, and this is the smallest token of something I could do to give back to them,” said Rosen.
Lance Corporal Karl Pope with USMC says it’s important to appreciate what you have, like the welcoming dinner. “Because for me, I’m still alive, I’m not being shot at, I’m in a nice home right now about to eat, so I’m thankful for that, so I can’t complain,” said Pope.
Rosen invited the neighborhood to welcome the troops, give them a gift and thank them for their service.
HM2 Robert Rubio with the US Navy says it was a warm welcome. “Good questions from the kids, and the moms especially and the families who really had a lot of questions about what we do, not only on a daily basis, but in worst of times as well for those that are deployed overseas,” said Rubio.
The dinner and welcome was held at Ironwood Country Club.