Members Take Time to Thank Troops

Posted June 27, 2008 at 4:40pm

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) held up two photographs on a recent afternoon as he looked directly into a video camera and spoke openly about the men in the pictures. They are his sons, both of whom served in Iraq.

Those photographs have helped Wilson connect with men and women in the service during his nine visits to Iraq and six trips to Afghanistan. He said he hoped the pictures would have the same effect in the videotaped message he was sending to the troops.

“I want to thank you for your service,” Wilson said. “The best way to protect American families is to defeat the terrorists overseas.”

Wilson was one of several Members who participated in the Moment of Thanks project, a Web site dedicated to showing support to American troops that will launch July 4. Stacey Artandi, founder and chief executive officer of SheZoom.com, a Web site for women, started the project. Artandi said she found that the Iraq War was among women’s top concerns and that many of them were seeking a way to give back.

Moment of Thanks offers an outlet for that, as people will be able to submit their messages to the Web site by uploading videos and pictures or writing a simple note. The site is accessible even to those with the busiest schedules, and the project has grown to include men, children, sports stars, celebrities and, of course, Wilson and his colleagues.

Although many Members had to cancel their appearances because of votes that were called the afternoon of the taping, Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Thelma Drake (R–Va.) were among those who were able to participate. House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also stopped by to add his thanks.

“I deeply appreciate the young men and women — the men and women of any age — who are willing to serve us and serve our country in such a great way,” Blunt said after taping his message.

Senators will be invited to share their thoughts at a later time. Artandi said she hopes presidential hopefuls Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will be among them.

Politicians’ voices send a powerful message to the troops, Artandi said.

“You hear people talk politically, and you wonder how that gets interpreted,” she said. “The troops can’t be thanked enough, they can’t be acknowledged enough, they can’t be respected enough.”