Saturday, June 18, 2011

Stand Up for Heroes….this is the home of the brave.

ABC's Claire Shipman, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Lynn and Wolff Blitzer

by contributor Brendan Kownacki

It’s hard to ignore the power of a man who can garner the attention of the Pentagon’s top brass, media’s most influential voices…and Elmo: Bob Woodruff is the man with that prowess.  Woodruff, who is an award winning television journalist, is perhaps most recently remembered for his trip to Iraq in 2006 to report from the war zone when he was critically injured by a roadside bomb. Woodruff explains that the experience forever changed him and that it was this feeling of comradery with soldiers who were injured similarly that drove him to start the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

Lee and Bob Woodruff
Woodruff and his wife Lee welcomed an inspiring crowd at the Reagan Building on Thursday evening that included dozens of service members, some of whom traveled directly from their beds at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval hospitals to attend the celebration.  Proceeds from the evening will help the Bob Woodruff Foundation in its efforts to ensure the nation’s injured service members return to a homefront ready to support them. 

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates with the Secret Service and The Brass
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who will soon retire, was treated to a heartfelt goodbye message from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen and it was clear from the response of all the men and women in uniform throughout the room that his service would be missed. 

Admiral Mullen and The Daily Show's Jon Stewart
The patriotic evening spun forward with an appearance by comedian and host of The Daily Show Jon Stewart and a rousing performance from Grammy award winning trio Train. Stewart spoke about his support of American troops and how he tries to visit recovering soldiers as often as he can. “It’s the very least I can do” he emphasized. Among the attendees for an evening was a soldier who Stewart saw admitted to the hospital years ago upon returning from the war, and it was an inspiring scene for all to see as they reunited.  

Coming home
Stewart joked about politics and religion, poking fun at the President and driving home a patriotic spirit that would have made Bob Hope proud from his earliest days on the USO tours. Being in Washington, Stewart couldn’t resist joking about embattled Congressman Anthony Weiner who had recently resigned.  “I wish everyone’s last name was an indicator of the thing that would get them in trouble” he laughed. When asked later if he would ever consider replacing Weiner in congress or would want to run for office, Stewart sheepishly looked around and responded “No, not even in the slightest.”    We can’t blame him. 

But think of all the great car service he'll be missing.