Operation Thank You invites community to sign cards for troops

A local nonprofit is asking everyone to come to the Dutch Square Center Mall food court this Memorial Day weekend to say “thank you” to the men and women who serve the United States in the military.

The Operation Thank You tent at Dutch Square Center mall (photo by Allen Wallace)

The Operation Thank You tent at Dutch Square Center mall (photo by Allen Wallace)

Operation Thank You is in its 10th year hosting the event at Dutch Square. A tent is set up in the food court, and anyone can sign a card, which the organization will deliver to currently deployed troops, veterans and military families.

One of the first to visit and sign cards as the event began Friday was U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, who said the cards mean a lot to the service members.

“I’ve had the opportunity to see people receive the cards,” said Wilson, who recently returned from visiting U.S. troops in Romania and Bulgaria.

Wilson also has four sons who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and added, “I know how meaningful it is to military families.”

The congressman purchased a “Freedom is not free” sticker at the Operation Thank You tent in honor of Spc. Thomas Caughman, a soldier from Lexington who died serving his country in Iraq.

“I’m just so proud of the service of the young people of our country,” Wilson said.

Lt. Col. Brian Bohlman, a chaplain at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, is the founder and director of Operation Thank You. He said another early arrival to sign Friday was a man who had received one of the cards while serving in Kuwait. Bohlman said the man thanked him and the other Operation Thank You volunteers and said the card “meant the world to him.”

Bohlman also said he will never forget serving at a combat trauma hospital in Afghanistan in 2012 and having wounded warriors tell him the cards were the best “medicine” they ever received.

Operation Thank You will be open at Dutch Square from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday, and mall visitors also will have an opportunity to sign cards during mall hours Sunday at the food court and at the AMC theater inside the mall.

Bohlman said his goal for the weekend is to collect 5,000 signed cards for the troops. He said churches, schools, and other organizations can arrange for card signings of their own. Information on arranging such events is available here.

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