IT'S TIME ONCE AGAIN TO SPREAD 'HOOSIER CHEER FOR OUR HEROES'
Somewhere in the desert sands of Iraq or the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, an Indiana soldier smiled during the holiday season last year, diverted momentarily from the danger and drudgery of war thanks to a greeting card from a Hoosier.
Last year, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman delivered 35,629 cards to Major Gen. Martin Umbarger, Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard, as part of her "Hoosier Cheer For Our Heroes" campaign. It was the largest total in the program's four-year history.
These cards – sent by Hoosiers from as many as 60 Indiana counties – were delivered to eight Indiana National Guard units serving in Afghanistan, six serving in Iraq and two others serving at different spots around the globe. Officials at Skillman's office said some of the cards also were delivered to the Naval Reserves.
Perhaps some of the cards came from you. Those who would like to send a card or cards this year should address them to:
Office of Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman
c/o Hoosier Cheer For Our Heroes
200 W. Washington St., Suite 333
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2797
Shipping costs will be defrayed thanks to generous support from the Indiana Statewide Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives and enGreet, an Indianapolis-based online greeting card company. Anyone may use the enGreet web site – www.engreet.com – to personalize and send a card as part of the Hoosier Cheer For Our Heroes campaign. Cards ordered online will be printed and mailed for free with personalized messages and photos.
All correspondence must be sent to the lieutenant governor's office or ordered on enGreet's website by Friday, November 18, so delivery to troops can be completed before Christmas.
In the four years since Skillman started the "Hoosier Cheer for Our Heroes" campaign, approximately 92,000 cards have been donated and delivered from virtually every county in Indiana.
Our Senate Majority Communications Office has in previous years helped sort through the greeting cards before they were delivered to the lieutenant governor's office and found the overall tone of the messages inspiring.
Many of them came from elementary school children who told the soldiers in a variety of ways that they were heroes. Students drew pictures, wrote descriptions of themselves and their activities, and praised the soldiers for their bravery.
Some students had relatives of their own in the service and asked the anonymous soldiers they were writing, "to say hi to my uncle" if you see him. A few told jokes. Many included comments and updates about the Indianapolis Colts.
Cards sent by adults were just as compelling. Some were very conversational – even talking about the Indiana weather. Others were emotional, as Hoosiers described their own war experiences or those of someone they knew. Still others offered homemade ornaments, perhaps something soldiers can carry with them as reminders of the love lifting them up back home.
Sets of cards came from social clubs, church groups and individual couples who made it their mission to send as many as possible. Scout groups, churches, military organizations and 4-H clubs sent them as well.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, Indiana has deployed more than 14,500 National Guard men and women to help serve in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008, nearly 4,000 members of the Indiana National Guard 76th Infantry Brigade were deployed for a one-year tour of duty in Iraq – the largest deployment of Hoosier soldiers since World War II.
It's heartening for them to know they are remembered, supported and loved here in Indiana. I hope you will consider participating in this wonderful effort.