Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

PALOUSITICS EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Rebecca Schwartz, Coordinator of Pullman "We Support Our Troops" Rally

I had a chance today to ask Rebecca Schwartz, coordinator of this Saturday's "We Support Our Troops" rally in Reaney Park, a few questions.

Rebecca is the daughter of one of the most well-known voices on the Palouse, KQQQ's Rod Schwartz.

TF: Tell me about your group.

Rebecca: I'm not involved with any particular troop support group, although for the past several years, my sister and I have been working with a number of troop support programs and websites (such as www.anysoldier.com, www.adoptaplatoon.org, www.soldiersangels.org, www.emailourmilitary.com, etc.). While we have enjoyed supporting deployed servicemen and women from all over the U.S., we always thought it would be great to have the opportunity to support troops from this area when they're called to active duty. When my sister read a news article about the Pullman-based National Guard unit's deployment to Iraq later this year, we decided to see if we could form a local troop support group, and the rally on Saturday is the first step toward achieving that goal. So far, we've been really impressed by the community's outpouring of support for this project; people have been very generous in donating their time and resources to make this event a success.

TF: Why did you get choose to get involved?

Rebecca: Well, I've always admired the courage and dedication of those serving in the military and feel that we can't tell them "thank you" too often for the job they do. My family and I wrote some "any soldier" letters during the first Gulf War, but this program was discontinued for security reasons after 9/11. So in 2003, when a lot of troops were being called up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, we were looking for a way to get thank-you letters and care packages to them. We searched online and found a website called Books for Soldiers (www.booksforsoldiers.com), and via their program, we were able to send books, letters, snacks, toiletries, and other items to servicemen in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. As the months and years went on, we found a number of other websites offering various troop support programs. And after so many years of practice, we thought it wouldn't be too hard to establish a local troop support group if the opportunity arose.

TF: What do you hope to accomplish at the rally this Saturday?

Rebecca: I hope to accomplish two things with the troop support rally: First, I want our local soldiers and their families to see that the community is behind them 100% and that we genuinely appreciate their service and sacrifice. Second, I want to raise awareness in the community that soldiers from this area will be serving in Iraq and that we need to be there for them and their families, supporting them on the homefront.

TF: Why does it matter? Why should people attend the rally?

Rebecca: It matters because of all that our soldiers do for us. They're going to be spending long months away from home, away from their loved ones. They'll be doing difficult and often dangerous work in conditions that are unpleasant to say the least. Generally speaking, we in the States have no idea of how hard it can be for those who are serving over there. So in view of these soldiers' dedication and self-sacrifice, the least we can do is show them some appreciation. And it really does mean a lot to the troops and their families. I can't count the number of times I've had soldiers tell me that just knowing that people back home care about them and appreciate their efforts makes all the difference in getting through their deployments.

TF: What will happen on Saturday?

Rebecca: The rally will begin at 10:00 AM. We'll open with the playing of the national anthem and an invocation, then Mayor Glenn Johnson and other speakers will give short addresses. Afterwards, there will be cake and assorted refreshments -- generously donated by Dissmores IGA -- for everyone to enjoy, and people will have the opportunity to meet some of the National Guardsmen. There'll be posters where people can write messages of support to the troops, and if they wish, sign up to send letters and care packages to the soldiers while they're deployed.

TF: How can Palousitics readers help?

Rebecca: We'd like to see as many people as possible at the rally, so if your readers could spread the word to their family and friends, we would really appreciate it. And we'll look forward to seeing you all there on Saturday!

I'd like to thank Rebecca for taking time out of her extremely busy schedule to answer my questions. I strongly encourage everyone to come out and pack the park on Saturday to show your support for our heroes.

If you have questions, Rebecca can be contacted at rally@turbonet.com

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